El Sistema Oklahoma's Vocal Program began in January 2022 as a partnership with the University of Central Oklahoma to provide vocal music experiences to students of ALL abilities. The vocal program welcomes neurotypical students, neurodiverse students, and students with physical conditions. The students we serve range in varying levels of ability:
neurotypical students: individuals who think and behave in ways considered more common by the general population
neurodiverse students: individuality and uniqueness in cognitive functioning such as Autism, ADHD, and Down syndrome; having differing brain function and nervous systems
students with physical conditions: limitation to person's movement or overall functioning due to injury, illness or genetic disorders; examples include hearing & visual impairments and cerebral palsy
El Sistema Oklahoma's Vocal Program partners with Northern Hills Elementary School in Edmond to identify students that would benefit from an inclusive music environment. Program activities are housed in UCO's Center for Transformative Learning, which provides handicapped-accessible spaces and a state-of-the-art theater. The vocal program premiered its first performance in April 2022.
The El Sistema Oklahoma Vocal Program is also excited to partner with the UCO School of Music, UCO Department of Psychology, and UCO College of Education to help train future music teachers, psychologists, and educators. University students will assist with the vocal program in various ways, giving them valuable experience for their future professions. These collaborations will grow the El Sistema Oklahoma Vocal Program into one of the only free, all-inclusive music programs in the state of Oklahoma.
Creating a program to include ALL students, regardless of ability, strengthens a community because everyone is represented. ALL students have the chance to contribute and not just receive. Peers are natural sources of support, make social connections, and encourage learning. Children involved see people in a different light, not in terms of labels and disabilities but personalities, friendships, and gifts. These students are future co-workers, civic leaders, community leaders, congregation members and citizens who will create and impact their communities by having these experiences during their formative years.