Did you know that suicide is the leading cause of death for children ages 10-14 in Arizona alone (NPR), and is one of the leading causes of death for youth nationwide ages 14-24 (CDC)?
Phoenix-based musician, David Simmons, hopes to change those startling statistics by giving kids new ways to express themselves, through the arts. The UBU Project, which he founded, teaches “suicide prevention, drug prevention, and anti-bullying through interactive, performing arts integration” and social/emotional learning.
Through “prevention residencies,” The UBU Project can help augment any organization’s existing curriculum with student-led, goal-oriented projects centered around the performing arts. These engaging, multi-sensory learning experiences nurture important skill sets such as imagination, cooperation, communication, leadership, and self-confidence — all skills necessary for students to combat and overcome bullying, self-doubt, and other internal struggles.
David Simmons, himself, has first-hand experience in battling these sorts of issues, which makes him the perfect advocate for this sort of project. In 2009, a failed attempt to take his own life resulted in a second chance for him to help others going through similar struggles and normalize the conversation around mental health in the country. It was this that inspired The UBU Project.
In sharing his story on The UBU Project website, David explains, “I am not a mental health care professional or therapist. I am a ‘wounded healer’ working in partnership with mental health care and K-12 education professionals to create opportunities for these young people to be heard, not hurt. To celebrate, not destroy. To learn that it is OK to tell their story, find hope and share it with the world.”
In addition to being the Founder, President, Teaching Artist, and Executive Director of The UBU Project, David Simmons is also an educator, performer, and performing artist. He was an honors graduate of the University of Montana School of Music, and has performed with artists such as Alice Cooper, The Drifters, and members of REO Speedwagon, A-ha, and Sly and the Family Stone.
To help raise awareness and funding for The UBU Project, David will be joined on-stage by his brother, Academy Award-winning actor JK Simmons (Whiplash, Spider-Man), as part of the ‘Light Your Corner of the World’ benefit concert. The Simmons brothers grew up in a household of musicians, artists, performers, and arts educators, and this concert will not only feature their own music, but also songs written and performed by youth members of The UBU Project. All proceeds go to benefit the mission of the project.
The ‘Light Your Corner of the World’ benefit concert will be held on Monday, March 2, 2020 at 7pm at the Phoenix Center for the Arts in Phoenix, Arizona. VIP Meet-and-Greet and General Admission tickets can be purchased online at ubuproject.org/benefit.
Learn more about The UBU Project in the project overview video narrated by JK Simmons below, or by visiting ubuproject.org.