The group from the music program Abilities Without Boundaries (AWB) are back in public after a two-year absence due to COVID-19. AWB, a non-profit organization based in Cheshire, provides group work opportunities and day support programs for adults aged 22-80 with intellectual and developmental disabilities. As part of its programming, AWB has created a music therapy program that includes in-house programs and public performances. Amanda Barnes, Executive Director of AWB, said: “In our music room, a banner reads, ‘When words fail, music speaks. We see time and time again how music reaches even our non-verbal selves. Performance builds the confidence of our individuals and helps the public better understand their abilities. We hope this will in turn lead to more work opportunities for our individuals.
The band is made up of AWB individuals led by their teacher, Cheshire musician John Ingrassia. Its last public performance was on March 7, 2020 at the Cheshire Library. The first case of COVID-19 in Connecticut was announced the very next day. (That was no one involved in the gig.)
Performing in public means so much to the band members. It’s part of their music therapy. They feel part of their community. It’s a way for them to contribute, according to Ingrassia. Now they are back, Sunday August 14, outdoors on the beautiful back lawn of Señor Pancho’s Prospect Restaurant. They are one of five acts offering a free concert from 1:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. Señor Pancho’s will have its full menu available, complete with servers, for those who enjoy music. Prospect’s location is at 280 Cheshire Road.
AWB’s Music Program Band has performed for AWB board members, donors, and spouses; at a Summer of Rock concert in August 2019 with a variety of other rock and roll bands; during a holiday concert at Señor Pancho’s Prospect in December 2019 and the aforementioned Cheshire Library concert in March 2020. Fundraising through their appearances supports the purchase of instruments, lessons for individuals, the transportation and support staff required by some of the interpreters.
AWB is also looking for donations of used musical instruments. Ingrassia, a Cheshire music teacher and rock and roll performer, worked with AWB staff to create a non-profit music program.