In fall 2016, Employment Enterprises, Inc. (EEI) received a One-World Mission grant to start a music therapy program for the disabled adults it serves. Adding music to the curriculum is something the organization has wanted to introduce for a long time, knowing that music is a creative way to help people with disabilities learn new skills, reach their full potential and lead fuller lives. Sister Mary Lou Eltgroth sponsored the application and, as a former teacher, also knows the benefits of music education and how it enriches people’s lives and promotes learning at all levels.
To establish the program, EEI purchased an electric keyboard, music supplies and resources to train the staff. “The biggest hit is the karaoke machine which has unleashed all kinds of musical talent and energy,” reports Pam Baltes, the executive director.
It was difficult to find a qualified music therapist, so EEI trained the staff and then hired a musician to lead the singing and dancing. The grant allowed the musician, who has disabilities of his own, to come two hours per work for an entire year. Music is now part of the daily routine, enhancing individual self-expression and increasing physical fitness.
Sister Mary Lou Eltgroth remarked, “Creating opportunity for people with disabilities to benefit from all that music has to offer is truly serving people on the margins.”
Music therapy is part of the daily routine at EEI’s Gap program, located in downtown Little Falls.