Larry Pegg is a man with big ideas, big ambitions, a big heart, and a big desire to make the world a better place. The Osgoode resident expresses himself through songwriting, and tackles such issues as youth mental health, gun violence and school shootings, climate anxiety, and suicide prevention. Larry is a father of two daughters, one of whom tragically took her own life. He lives with that anguish every day, and yet he’s driven to help create a better world.
After the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting of 2018, Larry wrote a song called “American Sun”. The song speaks of an America infected with senseless loss and gun violence. “I curl into a ball and I cry,” Larry said, talking of the strong emotions he feels when thinking about school shootings. “And then I try to channel that into something positive, and that’s who I am.” Larry talked at length about the connections he has made, including teachers he has spoken with, and musicians he has worked with when channeling his emotions into songwriting. He continues to write music, describing himself as a “part time musician with a full time heart”.
A big inspiration for Larry is an organization called March for Our Lives, whose mission it is to end gun violence. “[Our] policy agenda is rooted in our community’s calls for safety, grounded in the perspectives of gun violence survivors and their families, and bolstered by robust policy analysis and conversation,” reads the organization’s website. “It interweaves the underlying forces we believe fuel gun violence – gun glorification, political apathy, poverty, armed supremacy and our country’s mental health crisis – and points to specific policy priorities for our movement.” After the shooting in Uvalde, Texas, marches took place on June 11, with gun control advocates once again calling for positive action.
Youth mental health is an important topic for Larry. He discussed COVID-19, and how it should be a priority to study the long term mental health impacts of the pandemic, particularly on our youngest children and youth. When asked about how the current economic situation, including the housing crisis and exorbitant fuel prices, could affect the mental health of young people, Larry had a unique perspective. “There’s a certain amount of detachment that we all must learn from the pressures and the fears,” he said. Larry believes that “keeping up with the Joneses” is a societal construction, and that living more simply, and sustainably, such as learning to grow our own food might ease the strains of keeping up and save time and money. Such ideas are all part of moving forward, and focusing on solutions, rather than problems.
When it comes to youth mental health, Larry believes that gaming culture could be an impediment to children getting help, as it draws in such addiction and hyper-focus that some youth simply can’t be persuaded to think about anything else. He also agrees with the idea that mental health help is simply too difficult for youth to access, unless they are dealing with very serious mental health issues. Larry doesn’t pretend to be a mental health expert, but he knows as well as anyone that mental health care is important and often lacking. “I am always thirsty to learn more,” he said. “I’m not an expert, other than… I’m in the club.” By “the club”, Larry was referring to bereaved parents.
Larry’s message that he hopes to get out to Canada and the world is that “the need in is real”. This refers to the need to find solutions to guns and violence, the current mental health crisis, and other issues that threaten life, health and happiness. “We can’t let these issues fester in Canada the way we’ve seen them fester in the United States,” he said. “The issue of guns is a trigger point.”
More about March for Our Lives can be learned at https://marchforourlives.com/.