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Skill building program in Detroit breaks barriers for people with disabilities

<i>WWJ</i><br/>A group of individuals from Gesher Human Services taking part in a skill building program at Detroit Symphony Orchestra.
A group of individuals from Gesher Human Services taking part in a skill building program at Detroit Symphony Orchestra.


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    DETROIT, Michigan (WWJ) — A nonprofit in Detroit is using music therapy to break barriers for those with intellectual disabilities.

“I love Mondays, it’s now my favorite day of the week. You can actually hear folks singing down the hallway,” said Clare Valenti, Director of Community Engagement at the Detroit Symphony Orchestra.

Once a week, Valenti says a group of Metro Detroiters with intellectual disabilities head to the Detroit Symphony Orchestra.

“It’s basically an hour where they get to practice music, working together and all sorts of fun things,” Valenti said.

The gathering is part of the Creative Expressions Skill Building Program through Gesher Human Services.

It’s a Detroit nonprofit that provides resources to people with disabilities with hopes of landing them a job.

“Most of the volunteer sites where they learn about work skills, they’re doing janitorial work, so they wanted something different,” said Lillie Sorrell, Vice President of Vocational Services at Gesher Human Services.

Sorrell says with this program, participants develop better motor skills, and focus on team building, all while learning how to play instruments to explore careers in music.

“One particular person that’s been in this program he stopped by my office and says hello, I’m enjoying myself. I love going there…every time on Monday I go there…and it’s just a wonderful thing to see him happy every single Monday,” Sorrell said.

It’s a musical outlet that’s breaking barriers.

“To have an outlet to express yourself in a healthy and creative way it really accesses this ability that’s inherent in all of us to create art and create music,’ said Valenti.

“We’re big cheerleaders for all of our participants,” Sorrell said.

Around 70 Metro Detroiters involved with this program will be showcasing their talents at a fundraiser on Sunday, May 21st.

That fundraiser will benefit the Gesher Human Services Creative Expressions Program.

Those involved with this skill-building program also have the opportunity to go to the College for Creative Studies in Detroit once a week to learn about art.

If you’re interested in joining the program, click here for more information:

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