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Youngster enhancing strengths through Building Connections program

21-month-old A.J. benefiting from music therapy, says mom
Deron Hamel

Twenty-one-month-old A.J.’s participation in the Building Connections initiative, a twice-per-month drop-in service, has been an exciting opportunity to enhance the youngster’s strong vocabulary skills, says his mother Laura.

A.J., who has been involved with the program since October, has always loved music and the initiative’s music-therapy component has provided him with opportunities to thrive, his mom adds.

“He has a strong vocabulary, so we needed something to keep him amused and challenged,” Laura tells the BACI Blast, adding that A.J.’s interaction with other children has also been beneficial.

“I think the program is very good.”

The Building Connections initiative, which is a drop-in service offered every second Saturday at Twelfth Avenue Elementary School in Burnaby, provides a forum for children aged zero to six to learn and build upon literacy skills through music therapy and fun-based activities.

An on-site music therapist leads children in activities and provides parents with information about the positive impact music has on strengthening literacy skills for children. An early childhood education expert is also on hand to answer questions.

Music therapy is a major part of the Building Connections initiative. Through this component, children are engaged in musical instruments and singalongs. Research is showing that repetitive music helps enhance speech development and literacy skills for children.

At the moment, A.J. and other children have been working with the music therapist expert with instruments including shakers and drums, which Laura says A.J. is enjoying.

Asked if there is anything that could enhance the program, Laura suggests incorporating more musical instruments, if funding is available. Having more instruments available would provide opportunities for children to enhance their musical experience, she notes.

“It would be nice if they could introduce a few more instruments, but I know it’s difficult because of (funding issues),” she says.

Laura notes that the Building Connections initiative has been so valuable to A.J. that she has recommended it to other families.

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