Karen Demuth's son Dante was born with Down Syndrome and without an esophagus. He is non-verbal with hearing and visual deficiencies. As with many children born with special needs, it was important to Karen that Dante's quality of life improved as he lived in a solitary world solely immersed in his battery operated toys.
Traditional therapies provided a slow and steady growth, but the transformation she was hoping for in Dante didn't occur.
Everything changed when she discovered KinderMusik with Dinah Frilling. After 3 months of home based music lessons, dramatic growth in Dante occurred. His social social skills skyrocketed as he started to interact with those around him through music. Music unlocked his world.
After learning about the power of music, Karen asked Neptune Beach Elementary (NBE) Principal Elizabeth Kavanagh if a music program could be started at the school. Unfortunately, funding was not available. Understanding the importance of music for children with special needs, Karen with the Beaches community started fundraising. Connecting Thru Music (CTM), a weekly music program for children with special needs at NBE was started.
Although parents, teachers and administration saw how impactful the program was for the children, Karen realized through research and networking that more could be done to improve it. She learned that St. John's County Public Schools has provided a unique program to their children with special needs for over a decade. There's significant research the shows children with special needs thrive with this unique program? What was it?
Connecting Thru Music had to bring the therapy portion to the current music program at Neptune Beach Elementary. To make this happen, CTM expanded their fundraising goals. Some people said it couldn't be done. But, through community effort and generosity, CTM was able to not only bring music therapy to NBE, but also was able to open their second school, Mandarin Oaks Elementary.
Now, not only is Dante thriving, over 100 children with special needs are receiving this very vital service!
Who We Serve
We serve pre-school through 5th grade children with special needs who are in self contained class rooms in the Duval Country Public School system. There are currently 62 schools in Duval County that have self contained classrooms. We are in 2 and looking to expand annually.
Music therapy by a board certified music therapist from First Coast Music Therapy.
Magical Music Fundays, where Bach 2 Rock and KinderMusik provide weekly music classes.
Instrument donations for in school and at home experiences.
Networking and collaboration to raise funds and awareness to enable us to provide music therapy.
To provide music therapy and related music services which will enhance the cognitive, social, emotional, physical, development growth of the children with special needs in self contained classrooms at the elementary school level in Duval County Public School system.
To raise funds and awareness of the importance of music therapy in the lives of all children with special needs in the Duval County Public School System.