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MOVE TO INCLUDE is a partnership between WXXI and the Golisano Foundation designed to promote inclusion for people with intellectual and physical disabilities. Through programming and special events, WXXI and the Golisano Foundation look to build a more inclusive community by inspiring and motivating people to embrace different abilities and include all people in every aspect of community life.

Hochstein’s Expressive Arts therapy sessions affecting lives of people with disabilities

Expressive Arts session at Hochstein School of Music and Dance.

Music has a way of touching every one of us. Some of us may have a deep appreciation for the artistry in making music, others may appreciate its ability to convey emotion and transport us to a different place.

But, as shown at the Hochstein School of Music and Dance, music can also be used as a form of therapy. Expressive Arts sessions improve the quality of life for people who are well, and meets the needs of children and adults with disabilities, disorders, illnesses, or learning differences. 

“Throughout the session, there are goals and objectives that we have in mind, like social skills, and a chance for the participant to really be aware of who else is in the room with them and be sensitive to that,” said Maria Battista-Hancock, a board certified music therapist at Hochstein.

Expressive Arts interventions are designed to: promote wellness, relieve stress, alleviate pain, express feelings, enhance memory, develop academic skills, improve communication, promote physical rehabilitation, and improve social development.

“Sometimes the individuals we work with don’t have high self-esteem. So, the music and the rhythm, the idea that I’m matching your tempo, you’re matching mine, your voice comes to my ears and I’m singing with you, really helps,” Battista-Hancock said.

Each year, between 900 and 1,000 local community members are served by Hochstein’s Expressive Arts Program, which began in 1975. National studies have credited dance therapy with increasing quality of life and decreasing clinical symptoms such as depression and anxiety.

Battista-Hancock said she most enjoys the human connection and building lasting relationships..

“There’s a gift in each human being and I get to see that through music,” she said.

Sasha-Ann Simons joined the team at WXXI News in 2015 as a Multimedia Reporter/Producer. She tells stories about the innovation economy and technology in upstate New York and also does general assignment reporting. Sasha-Ann is the host of Arts InFocus, WXXI-TV's weekly arts and culture program. She is also a fill-in host and regular contributor to Need To Know.