Vanderbilt Kennedy Center

Multicultural Outreach Program Connects Children with the Arts

Updated on 12/13/2013 9:36:36 AM.

At the very last Multicultural Parent Support Group for Spanish-speaking Families of 2013, while their parents were meeting to wrap up a year of learning and sharing together, a room full of children and adolescents with and without disabilities explored the art of expression through music and drawing. Tennessee Disability Pathfinder’s Multicultural Outreach Program partnered with Massood Taj of Full Circle Artists and with Shaun Giles and Brittany Brooks from The Frist Center for the Visual Arts to make the experience possible.

The music portion of the evening included demonstrations of musical instruments from a variety of cultures. Massood, along with yoga instructor Karen Engel (Vanderbilt) and retired nurse Lucy Marshall White (Vanderbilt), encouraged the group to listen to the similarities and differences in sounds coming from the various instruments. They assisted them with movement, feeling the vibrations of sounds, and with taking deep relaxing breaths.

“Masood, Karen, and Lucy are so good with the children,” said Carolina Meyerson, Support Group coordinator (Pathfinder). “The parents have often commented on how calm and relaxed their children are after working the music team. In fact, we have one child who has a lot of difficulty with getting enough sleep. However, her parents told us that she sleeps all night long after the group meets. Many of the parents ask where they can find copies of the music so they can listen at home. They like to see their children at ease and relaxed. ”

Shaun Giles and Brittany Brooks from The Frist Center worked with the group to encourage self-expression on paper. Some children used pastels while others played with abstract shapes.

“The children really enjoyed making the art,” said Cecilia Melo-Romie, Statewide Spanish Outreach Coordinator (Pathfinder). “The pictures that came from the kids were just beautiful. You can see their little minds working as they create. Art is powerful and can be a wonderful way for the children to communicate.”

“It’s true,” added Meyerson. “Parents are often so focused on all the therapies and medical appointments that they forget to slow down and connect. Art allows people to connect on a very deep level. It’s not always about work. Sometimes it needs to be about exploring and creating. This helps us to connect and to feel alive.”

To learn more about the Multicultural Parent Support Group for Spanish-speaking Families, contact Carolina Meyerson.

Click here to view a slide show of the of the last support group meeting.

Browse News

Have Questions?

Jan Rosemergy can answer your media-related questions or help connect you to one of our science or disability professionals.

Leave Feedback

Help the VKC improve its web site by completing a short survey. Your feedback is important to us!

VKC Website Feedback Survey