By NewsLine Staff

The Lazzara Family Foundation has established a $20,000 matching gift challenge in support of “Sound Connections,” a music therapy outreach program offered by the Cultural Center at Ponte Vedra Beach that benefits children with special needs at three elementary schools in Ponte Vedra.

The Cultural Center challenges the community to help raise $40,000 to sustain this outreach program for the 2016-2017 school year at Ocean Palms, Valley Ridge Academy and PVPV/Rawlings elementary schools. From now until Dec. 1, 2016, every contribution of $25 or over will be matched dollar for dollar up to $20,000, thus helping the center achieve its $40,000 goal.

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Music therapy is a well-established professional health discipline that uses music as the therapeutic stimulus to achieve non-musical treatment goals. The Cultural Center’s board certified music therapists, Minda Gordon and Candice Sirak, utilize music as an educational related service to promote learning and skill acquisition at selected public schools in St. Johns County. Music therapy, an evidence-based practice, shows a correlation between speech and singing, rhythm and motor behavior, memory for song and memory for academic material and overall ability of preferred music to enhance mood, attention and behavior to optimize the student’s ability to learn and interact.

Music is processed by a different area of the brain than speech and language, so a child may be able to more easily absorb information and skills presented with music. One of the purposes of the Cultural Center’s music therapy program is to provide children who have varied disabilities with an initial assist using melodic and rhythmic strategies, followed by fading of musical cues to aid in generalization and transfer to other learning environments.

To contribute to the Sound Connections Matching Gift Challenge, visit or call (904) 280-0614 ext. 203. All gifts to the matching challenge are tax deductible to the full extent allowed by law.

The Cultural Center at Ponte Vedra Beach is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization located at 50 Executive Way in Ponte Vedra Beach, 32082.

Photo courtesy Kim Kirk Photography

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