GSB Students Highlight Disability Awareness with Daniel’s Music Foundation

Throughout the school year, GSB Middle and Upper Schoolers have partnered with Daniel’s Music Foundation to learn how to see the “ability” in disability.

Beginning in October, Gill St. Bernard’s has built a year-long partnership with Daniel’s Music Foundation, a non-profit organization located in New York City that empowers individuals with developmental and physical disabilities through the healing power of music. Daniel’s Music Foundation (DMF) enriches the lives of its members by providing free in-person music classes, private virtual lessons, and annual community concerts and events to showcase the incredible talent of the disability community. The organization is named after co-founder, Danny Trush, who used music to regain motor skills after suffering a brain aneurism at the age of 12.

In addition to their music programs, DMF’s mission is to work with schools and organizations across the county to bring greater visibility to the barriers that individuals with disabilities face and to help build mutual understanding, appreciation, and respect for individuals of all abilities.

Highlighting Disability Awareness Upper School 9th Grade Seminar

In the fall, 9th graders in Mrs. Goodson Barrett's 9th Grade Seminar Cultural Identity & Awareness Unit course met virtually with DMF Co-founders, Danny Trush and Ken Trush, to learn how to appreciate other peoples’ personal challenges and to recognize that not all disabilities are inherently visible.

“Partnering with DMF has provided our students with more insight into lived experiences that sometimes go unnoticed in our school community,” said Mrs. Goodson Barrett. “Their visits really helped raise awareness about physical, developmental, and emotional disabilities as an identity, while recognizing the needs and potential of individuals who live with a disability.”

Virtual Visits with 5th & 6th Grade Music Classes

This past winter, 5th and 6th graders had the opportunity to meet Daniel and the DMF team via Zoom in Mrs. Southerland’s music class to expand their knowledge of musicians in the disabled community.

“The visit was truly inspiring,” reflected Mrs. Southerland. “Not only did we get to talk with Daniel in an intimate setting for an entire class period, but we heard all about the great work that his foundation is doing for so many people! One of the biggest take-aways for the students was how he and his family used a very unfortunate health crisis to create something so life-changing for so many by providing free musical opportunities to those with similar life situations.”

A Special Upper School Assembly

Earlier this week, Daniel’s Music Foundation was invited to campus to kick off GSB Spirit Week in a special Monday assembly for the upper school student body. In the 45-minute visit, Danny and the DMF team led an interactive presentation to talk about the DMF mission, highlight volunteer opportunities, and share videos to not only talk about disabled awareness but to have an open and honest conversation about how to treat others with dignity, respect, and acceptance. At the end of the presentation, students even got a special live performance when Danny performed one of his original songs in the PACC as the full audience clapped along.

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