Voices Together stuck out as an influential and eye-opening program.
“They are a strong organization that works with a special group of young people,” she said.
White said that the grant money would be used to reach out to more schools and students.
White, who is a music therapist, said she understands that students with autism and other mental disabilities find communication and social skills difficult.
To improve these skills, White decided they should work in group settings.
“Being a community is the epitome of socialization,” White said.
Every week, students participate in an hour-long session where they use music to talk about their feelings and emotions.
White said that teachers and parents experience the effects of the program in the classroom and at home.
“It has a huge impact on the way they communicate. One parent said their child never spoke before,” said White.
Aileen Womark, a teacher who helped introduce Voices Together into the Durham public school system, used to teach autistic high school students at the Durham School of the Arts.
Womark said she found that the effects of Voices Together were almost ten times more beneficial than most speech therapy classes and that many of her primarily non-verbal students began to voice their feelings.
“This program really helps these students find their place in a group and community,” Womark said. “It’s a model program.”
White said she wishes to continue expanding the program so more students can become more social and confident communicators.
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