Nonprofit works to bring songwriting, music and fun to children with disabilities and serious medical conditions
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“There was this huge community of musicians who no longer had the collaborative opportunities that they were used to. All these factors came together to give us the moment to bring Hear Your Song to more people and more communities,” Rubins, who has a background in musical theater, explained.
During the pandemic, kids and Hear Your Song volunteers would meet virtually. Eventually they would collaborate at the child’s home or, more often, at summer camps and other programs around the metro area. Collaborations still take place virtually, too. There is no charge for any family to be part of Hear Your Song, and children do not need to have any musical background or skills.
Today, Rubins and his team have formed important partnerships with hospitals and organizations throughout the metro area as a way to let kids and families know that Hear Your Song is out there. These partnerships include Montefiore Medical Center, Double H Ranch camp, Camp AmeriKids and others.
Hear Your Song: The Social Aspect
For many children, their disabilities and conditions can be quite isolating. But Hear Your Song allows kids to meet and socialize with others who have common interests.
Lucas, 16, from New Providence, NJ, was diagnosed with inoperable low grade gliomas in his brain stem. Because of his illness and the intense treatment he’s received over the years, Lucas can not walk. Although he has lots of friends, he’s not able to participate in many activities that the other kids do, like playing sports.
But being part of Hear Your Song gives Lucas the opportunity to do something else he enjoys, and have fun with friends while doing it.
“It empowers him to feel important, to feel heard, to feel that he made friends who are meaningful in his life,” Amy Reiling, Lucas’ mother, said. “Having the type of illness and disabilities that Lucas has, it’s very isolating. It’s very lonely. But this gives him friends, and not just a friend that hangs out and plays video games, but a friend that makes him feel that he can write music.”
Lucas’ song Smiles In the Wind is a beautiful ballad of which he wrote all the lyrics and contributed ideas for the melody (which, by the way, is inspired by Frank Sinatra’s “My Way”).
As his song title might suggest, Lucas makes a lot of people smile, including his friends, family and others who hear his music. And these days, he’s doing very well, his mother said.
“He’s absolutely a miracle,” Reiling said. “It’s definitely a complicated life, it’s a lot, but he’s doing great. He’s thriving.”
Just as Lucas’ mother described, Hear Your Song is about more than doing something fun. It’s also about community and friends, Rubins explained.
“At the end of the day, it’s really a very relationship- and community-driven organization,” Rubins said. “We really want to make kids and their families feel they are part of a community, and it’s not just a one-off activity. It’s a network of support—and a celebration of that more than anything.”
To learn more about Hear Your Song, support the organization and hear some cool tunes, visit hearyoursong.org. You can also follow the organization on Instagram and Facebook.
Main image: Morgan Adriazola performs for an audience. Photo credit: Jason Haberman.