What is The Vitamin L Project?

The Vitamin L Project is a unique, innovative, music based character education project for young people.

The purpose of the Vitamin L project is to encourage positive character development through music, by inspiring young people with messages that are meaningful in their daily lives. We accomplish our mission using award winning songs written by Mr. Jan Nigro. The songs have meaningful positive messages and uplifting ideas. Our goal is that young listeners absorb the lessons of confidence, kindness, perseverance, cooperation and respect presented in the songs, and weave these concepts into the fabric of their characters in ways that help them make positive choices and have healthy relationships with themselves and others. Our goal is to reach and positively influence as many children as possible.

The Vitamin L Project, founded in 1989, is a project of CTA (Center for Transformative Action) in Ithaca. CTA administers all grants for The Vitamin L Project and acts as its non-profit fiscal agent.

In 2012, Vitamin L:

  • Performed 42 concerts
  • Reached 10,138 youth and 2,321 adults in concerts
  • Performed for 29 schools and 8 festivals and community events
  • Gave leadership and performing opportunities to our 65 chorus members

Vitamin L songs reach children via concerts in which Mr. Nigro is joined onstage by nine members of the Vitamin L chorus. Currently a diverse group of 65 – 80 singers, age 11 - 21, take turns performing in Vitamin L concerts year-round in Central New York and beyond.

Song topics include encourage empathy, tolerance, respect, cooperation, kindness, perseverance, non-violent conflict resolution, resisting peer pressure, human rights, sensible decision making, and more.

Janice Nigro is the full time director of The Vitamin L Project. Her husband Jan wrote all the Vitamin L songs and he performs at all the concerts and does the auditions with Janice.

The Vitamin L Project received a Certificate of Recognition from the governor’s office “for being in the forefront of helping to promote the ideals of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. by promoting peace in our schools and communities.”

On 1/27/10, Representative Maurice Hinchey read a beautiful tribute into the permanent Congressional Record of the United States honoring Vitamin L and Jan and Janice Nigro “for their unwavering commitment to improving their community” and for their 20 years of service.

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Vitamin L – Why we do it!

We founded Vitamin L in 1989 because we believe that there is an urgent need to encourage positive character development in children. We believe that this need can be met in part through music. While much of today's music exposes young people to meanness and negativity, Vitamin L's songs promote the positive in a world that has so many problems.

Thomas Lickona, nationally recognized character education expert and professor of Education at SUNY Cortland...from his book Character Matters:

“Character education is the deliberate effort to cultivate virtue. The premise of the character education movement is that the disturbing behaviors that bombard us daily, violence, greed, corruption, incivility, drug abuse, sexual immorality, and a poor work ethic - have a common core: the absence of good character. Educating for character offers the best hope of improvement in all these areas.

Children are 25 percent of the population but 100 percent of the future. If we wish to renew society, we must raise up a generation of children who have strong moral character. And if we wish to do that, we have two responsibilities: first, to model good character in our own lives, and second, to intentionally foster character development in our young.”

When the positive messages in the Vitamin L concert songs encourage empathy, tolerance, respect, cooperation, kindness, perseverance, non-violent conflict resolution, resisting peer pressure, and sensible decision making, seeds are being planted. Every child that internalizes a positive approach to life with the help of the Vitamin L program will benefit the community when you understand that Vitamin L is a prevention program. Studies have shown that the more we can instill positive character development in young children, the fewer serious behavior problems develop in the teenage years and beyond.

"Character education in elementary school has an impact on the academic performance in students' middle school years.  The students who had participated in character education programs in elementary school, had higher grade point averages and academic achievement scores than their peers who had not participated in a character education program.  The students also liked school more, had greater respect for teachers, and had higher educational aspirations than their peers."
-Howard, R., Berkowitz, M. W., & Schaeffer, E. (2004). Politics of Character
Education. Educational Policy, 18, 188-215.

Vitamin L concerts offer an excellent arts experience for young audiences:

“The Vitamin L music has a positive message which is hard to find in much of pop music today. The music is also interesting and has many elements of value to the music educator. My students had a lot of fun singing along with the songs that they knew. They also liked getting autographs. I intend to continue using the music and concepts. Thank you again for a wonderful evening!” - Gary Citro, music teacher, Dutch Broadway Elementary, Elmont, NY

“The students not only learn about character education, they learn to love the songs and love singing. Every single student wants to sing these songs! We discussed the meaning of each song that we learned and the students really had a lot of heartfelt things to share. Thank you!” - Jessica Melly, music teacher, Homer Brink Elementary, Endwell, NY

“What an absolute precious, precious gift you are sharing with young people. Kids can be very cruel to each other; that’s why what you all are doing is so important. People need to be encouraged to do the right thing.

I want to applaud you for what you are doing with your lives and through Vitamin L. It needs to be replicated all over the planet. I think if more young people had the opportunity from an early age to experience something like this, I think the world would be a very different place - I know it would be a very different place.”

This is what Yolanda King, daughter of Martin Luther King, Jr., had to say after she attended a Vitamin L concert in Ithaca. Yolanda truly understood the spirit of Vitamin L’s strong commitment to improving the well being of children.

If you have read this far, congratulations! You know a lot about Vitamin L now!