... and the power of song
As a lifelong voice coach, choir director and mother of a special needs child, Anne-Marie Brimacombe learned all about the therapeutic potential of music a long time ago.
These days she’s using that knowledge to help Our Place family members discover the healing power of song.
Two years ago, Anne-Marie and her husband Peter launched the West Coast REACH Association to give people with special needs an opportunity to sing in an integrated setting alongside members of the city’s wider choral community.
“In Victoria there are many music programs for persons with special needs but as far as we know there’s no integrated programs,” says Anne-Marie.
Earlier this year, a member of the West Coast Reach choir who is also a member of the Our Place family, suggested starting a second program to offer the same opportunity to members of Victoria’s street community.
Called the OutREACH Choir, the group meets in the Our Place chapel every Wednesday and has about two dozen regular attendees, about half of whom also sing with West Coast REACH.
The OutREACH choir’s first public performance took place Dec. 13 at the annual reading of A Christmas Carol, an Our Place fundraiser sponsored by CBC Radio Victoria.
The seeds of West Coast REACH were planted in 2010 when Anne-Marie and Peter relocated to Trinidad and Tobago, where she was born.
While working to start choir programs at local schools, she discovered that special needs children went to separate schools and had no access to music programs. “I just thought these children really deserve it, so I started volunteering in those two schools,” she says.
After six years in Tobago, Anne-Marie and Peter decided to move back to Victoria and develop music programs for people with disabilities.
“The members tell us it’s the highlight of their week. We see them come alive and we see the amazing impact on everyone else who sees them.”