Students in the Autism Resource Center at the Technology Academy at Bon Air Middle School now will benefit from music therapy classes thanks to a School Improvement Grant Bon Air recently was awarded.

The Kokomo School Corporation Board of School Trustees approved a contracted services agreement with Opportunities for Positive Growth, Inc. during its regular board meeting on Monday, Feb. 6th, 2017.

Opportunities for Positive Growth, Inc. employs Board Certified Music Therapists who are focused on fostering growth in the areas of communication, cognition, motor, emotional, social, and sensory needs to improve an individual’s daily life. The therapists work on these skills through musical interventions.

A Board Certified Music Therapist from Opportunities for Positive Growth, Inc. will work with students at Bon Air twice weekly using a music therapy plan tailored to each student’s needs. This new service at Bon Air is one of many programs at the middle school being funded through an $862,659 School Improvement Grant awarded to Bon Air by the Indiana Department of Education.

Kokomo Schools Director of Special Education Dr. Tenicia Helmberger worked with Bon Air Principal Amanda Landrum to research the idea… which was sparked by Kokomo School Corporation’s commitment to the arts.

“At a time when many schools are eliminating music programs, our Superintendent and Board of School Trustees have continued to strengthen our programs by adding orchestra, dance, and integrated arts, as well as other arts programs,” Dr. Helmberger noted. “Because I have seen the benefits of these arts programs firsthand in our schools, I began working with Mrs. Landrum to research music therapy and its potential benefits for our students with autism.”

Mrs. Landrum wholeheartedly supported the initiative.

“As we completed the School Improvement Grant application at Bon Air, we were certain we wanted to seek funding to provide this tremendous opportunity to our students with autism,” Mrs. Landrum explained. “As we explored music therapy within autism research, we found definite links between music, singing, and speech acquisition. Autism Spectrum Disorder affects each child differently. Several students in our Autism Resource Center are non-verbal and have sensory issues. We have found, however, that music and dance help us communicate with these students.”

The additional monies from the Indiana School Improvement Grant give Bon Air students access to more opportunities, according to Mrs. Landrum.

“We are able to coordinate efforts with experts in the field of music therapy to offer sessions for our non-verbal students,” Mrs. Landrum said. “This is an exciting time at Bon Air Middle School, and we look forward to providing a multi-sensory approach to learning for our students with autism.”

Rebecca Miller, a Special Education teacher in the Autism Resource Center at Bon Air, noted her excitement for this additional support for her students.

“I am very thankful my students will have the opportunity to benefit from this meaningful program,” Mrs. Miller said. “I can’t wait to see the positive results this therapy will bring to my amazing students.”