Maya’s Gift to Richmond: Music Therapy for People with Developmental Disabilities

Maya’s Gift to Richmond: Music Therapy for People with Developmental Disabilities

By Semany Gashaw

As she gets off the BART, Chloe Lipton makes her way to one of her favorite destinations: Maya’s Music Therapy Fund. Her new caretaker, Kayla Jenkins, worries that they might be going in the wrong direction. But Lipton knows exactly where she’s going—after all it’s been 25 years.

Lipton, Maya’s most loyal client, has cerebral palsy, a disability resulting from damage to the brain, which manifests itself in muscular incoordination and speech disturbances. For the past 27 years, Maya’s has provided music therapy sessions to adults and teenagers with developmental disabilities ranging from cerebral palsy to autism, Down syndrome or Rett Syndrome, a neurological disability found mostly in girls.

The fund was created in memory of Maya Cooper, a young girl who was born in Tel Aviv, but grew up in Berkeley. She was severely disabled, unable to walk or talk,  yet she found a way to communicate through music. Her mother, Joanna Cooper, writing by email, said that Maya “loved to have her fingers strum guitar, banjo or mandolin strings, and to get assistance in tapping a drum, push the keys of a piano or shake maracas or a tambourine.” Her parents set up the fund to enable others with disabilities to experience the benefits of group and individual music therapy.

Read the full story here.



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