Music Therapy for Children with Special Needs
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The Cultural Center at Ponte Vedra Beach (CCPVB) has been the leading non-profit arts organization that has made music therapy for children with special needs a priority in the St. Johns County School System. In 2006 CCPVB started a small pilot program, Music Therapy at Cunningham Creek Elementary School, the public hub school for children with special needs which is still being funded by a generous major donor, The Woodcock Foundation for the Appreciation of the Arts, Inc.
Because of the continued success of the Cunningham Creek program and the national notoriety which includes CCPVB winning the American Music Therapy Association Award for both fundraising and program design, this vital resource for children with varied disabilities was expanded in 2015 to serve three additional St. Johns County Schools: PVPV/Rawlings, Ocean Palms Elementary, and Valley Ridge Academy, and renamed SOUND CONNECTIONS/Music Therapy for Children with Special Needs.
The expansion was the intuitive of the Cultural Center and a dedicated board member/Principal at Ocean Palms, Jessica Richardson. “It is a powerful connection that I have had the privilege of witnessing first hand at Cunningham Creek Elementary. I have seen students who are easily overwhelmed and overstimulated, settled by music. I have watched students who are non-verbal come to life through learning to play the piano or a hand drum. CCPVB has actively pursued the expansion of Music Therapy in our schools because they too recognize the positive impact this program can have in the lives of the students in our community.” states Jessica Richardson.
Each year, the center must find $42,000 to fund SOUND CONNECTIONS/Beaches to cover the salaries and supplies of the music therapist at the beach. SOUND CONNECTIONS Beaches received generous funding over the past two school years from individuals and foundations including the Persbacker-Wyman Family Foundation and the Lazzara Family Foundation. With the support from our caring community, Sound Connections is able to provide approximately 300 additional music therapy contacts each week for children with special needs at the beaches schools.
Leigh Rodante, CCPVB Director of Programs & Exhibitions, states, “The needs for the music therapy program at the beach have increased since 2015 so we hope the program can be financial sustainable after our three year commitment has ended. The Cultural Center would like to offer the support needed but it depends on the support of our community.”
The Cultural Center must raise $42,000 to sustain Sound Connections in three beaches schools for the 2017-2018 school year or the program will be canceled for lack of funding. To help sustain SOUND CONNECTIONS/Music Therapy for children with special needs at the beaches elementary schools, please go here to donate.
More about Sound Connections and Music Therapy
Music therapy is a well-established professional health discipline that uses music as the therapeutic stimulus to achieve non-musical treatment goals. The Cultural Center's board certified music therapists, Minda Gordon and Candice Sirak, utilize music as an educational related service to promote learning and skill acquisition at selected public schools in St. Johns County. Music therapy, an evidence-based practice, shows a correlation between speech and singing, rhythm and motor behavior, memory for song and memory for academic material, and overall ability of preferred music to enhance mood, attention, and behavior to optimize the student's ability to learn and interact.
Music is processed by a different area of the brain than speech and language; hence, a child may be able to more easily absorb information and skills presented with music. Therefore, one of the purposes of the Cultural Center's music therapy program is to provide children who have varied disabilities with an initial assist using melodic and rhythmic strategies, followed by fading of musical cues to aid in generalization and transfer to other learning environments. Our music therapy program now serves four public schools and provides up to 500 contacts of therapy a week. To learn more about music therapy go to www.musictherapy.org.
The Cultural Center at Ponte Vedra Beach music therapy programs are currently sponsored by:
The Woodcock Foundation for the Appreciation of the Arts, Inc
Lazarra Family Foundation
Persbacker WymanFamily Foundation
Borkowski Family Foundation
PV Rotary Foundation
Red Coats Foundation
Florida Division of Cultural Affairs