It began when a toddler life specialist requested Austin Atteberry to deliver his guitar to a kids’s hospital in Nashville and sing some songs.
The Northwestern grad, who grew up in Lake Bluff, was merely making an attempt to impress the “cute lady” who moved subsequent door. However these music-making classes sparked one thing a lot greater than foolish kids’s songs.
Greater than a decade after he agreed to volunteer, he’s helped create almost 1,200 kids songs that had been dreamed up and written up by kids in want. By means of his basis, Sing Me a Story, about 5,000 songwriters take part with 200 organizations serving kids around the globe, together with Chicago HOPES for Youngsters, Chicago Home and Sinai Youngsters’s Hospital.
The songs are supposed to uplift the spirits of underserved youths, in addition to youngsters battling terminal sicknesses or dealing with prolonged hospitalization, Atteberry stated.
“The one factor all of them have, no matter their circumstance, is their hearts and their imaginations, and we deliver these imaginations to a number of the greatest microphones we will discover,” Atteberry stated. “We’ve seen that we’re actually instilling a way of dignity in so many of those youngsters.”
Youngsters from ages 4 to 17 have taken half within the tasks. The composers take concepts offered within the tales and create an unique music, document it and add it to Sing Me A Story’s web site. The muse then creates “Jukebox Campaigns” for every uploaded music in an effort to boost cash for the partnering organizations and Sing Me a Story. When followers contribute to the Jukebox Campaigns, they obtain the music as an MP3 with their donation receipt.
Most songs can be found on the positioning, however not all usually are not accessible to the general public. Atteberry stated they designate the extra critical or private tales, usually ones coming from hospice organizations and palliative care organizations, to particular music therapists.
“We’ve had all types of circumstances, the place we’re creating actual legacy items for households,” Atteberry stated. “These songs are just for the households.”
This fall, 8-year-old Silas Mitchell considered “tremendous chinckens” when dreaming up his music. These particular, rainbow chickens can run quick and soar over skyscrapers. When hassle calls, they band collectively to save lots of the day.
Silas co-wrote the story, “The Tremendous Chinckens Save the Day ‘’ together with his 15-year-old sister Jasper Fidler, who suffered extreme accidents from a mountain climbing accident this summer time. Her life as soon as full of soccer, college and associates turned hospitals, surgical procedures and remedy classes. After 5 surgical procedures, Jasper has discovered to stroll once more, a feat that defied the chances medical doctors gave her.
“I keep in mind sitting up used to make me really feel like I used to be going to love cross out, after which it was one of the crucial painful issues to stroll round,” stated Jasper, who’s from North Carolina. “It’s simply loopy to consider.”
Her household has been dwelling in Chicago since August whereas Jasper receives intensive remedy from the Shirley Ryan AbilityLab, the place she now attends classes 15 hours per week. Engaged on the music along with her brother was a welcomeoutlet for the siblings after the accident altered their lives.
“It’s particular,” Jasper stated. “It’s going to be good to have the ability to return and listen to that music and take into consideration the time once we had been writing it and take into consideration how a lot has modified since then.”
Jasper shattered each ankles, each wrists, broke her sternum and backbone in June throughout a weeklong mountain climbing camp. She additionally suffered a spinal wire damage. Due to her accidents, she was flown from the Virginia camp web site to a trauma middle in Tennessee.
“The primary information we obtained from her neurosurgeon was that she could be a paraplegic,” stated her mom, Kori Mitchell. “It was unlikely she would stroll once more. Heartbreaking.”
Jasper went by way of 5 surgical procedures on her backbone, toes, ankles and wrists. She nonetheless has no feeling from the knee down however has been utilizing muscle reminiscence to regain her mobility. She took her first steps once more in September.
“Jasper’s character has carried her by way of all this with unimaginable energy, which is superb for a 15-year-old,” stated Greg Fidler, Jasper’s father. “All of us attempt to rise to that degree. With out Jasper’s energy, I don’t know the way I’d be capable to deal with all this.”
For Atteberry, to present youngsters the flexibility to create music permits them to seek out their voice, typically in conditions the place they usually really feel they don’t have one. Irrespective of their background, he stated each little one has their very own distinctive concepts to deliver to the world.
“The one factor all of them have, all of them can provide, is their imaginations, proper?” he stated. “Once we present them that we worth these imaginations, it offers them an actual sense of empowerment.”
Atteberry stated he usually hears from households who attain out to say they’ve been listening to the music on repeat and that they really feel grateful to the group for making their little one “really feel like the middle of the universe.” He recollects one mom who tattooed the lyrics of a music on her again.
Whereas the songs will be associated to the kid’s private journey, the songs are sometimes rather more lighthearted than individuals suppose, Atteberry stated.
“They could be going by way of chemotherapy or no matter it’s they’re going by way of, however on the finish of the day, they’re nonetheless youngsters,” Atteberry stated. “They write tales about pizza, dinosaurs, being the king of their fortress, and all these items. For the children to see that stuff became songs, they suppose it’s superior.”
When Silas was inspired to create a music about something he wished, “his creativeness ran wild at that time,” Jasper stated.
Concepts poured from Silas as he paced round their condominium. Whereas most of Jasper’s music got here from the creativeness of her youthful brother, Jasper stated she helped put his concepts down on paper. As Jasper describes, she acted like his “scribe,” jotting down his concepts as quick she might.
After they completed writing, the 2 sat collectively, with crayons, markers, coloured pencils and glitter sprawled throughout the desk, to create illustrations to associate with the story.
The story is now within the arms of Roosevelt College composition college students Tyler Ono and Megan DelSignore, who’re reworking their work right into a music.
“We respect the entire storytelling facet of issues,” Ono stated. “As a child, I actually at all times thought that being artistic and simply with the ability to inform these loopy tales and create these little tunes at all times assist me by way of exhausting instances, no matter it could be. I feel that this group actually helps these youngsters let their feelings out.”
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Between dwelling education and Jasper’s remedy classes, the story and illustrations took about two weeks to be accomplished. On the conclusion of Sing Me A Story tasks, musicians reveal the ultimate piece in a dwell efficiency for the household. In Silas and Jasper’s case, the Roosevelt college students will give the composed piece to a youth band from Chicago’s Disney II Magnet Faculty subsequent yr.
Whereas the household heads again to North Carolina this month, they plan to return within the spring for the efficiency.
“It’s so thrilling,” stated Mitchell. “These two had fun collectively, and we’ll be capable to share it with individuals.”
Cash raised from Silas and Jasper’s music will go to the Ronald McDonald Home, they stated.
Atteberry stated he needs to broaden this chance for teenagers in want all over the place. What began as a option to impress a lady, who later turned his spouse, has turn into a mission. Turning into a father to a few younger youngsters himself has made the work of the group all of the extra significant.
“I began this after I wasn’t a dad, however as a guardian, it takes on a complete new life,” he stated. “You see youngsters who’ve confronted challenges that almost all adults hopefully won’t ever ever see.”