Find Your Voice All Abilities Choir – Disability Awards 2019


What started off as this simple, organic,
grassroots opportunity for communities to sing together really blossomed into something
that is just growing exponentially. In 2017, Tom Richardson and myself travelled
around the community to enquire about who might want to be involved and we started off
with half a dozen people in Portland and a dozen people in Warrnambool and a dozen people
in Tarang. From this small little beginning, this growth in self-esteem, this growth in
civic participation, this growth in friendship, in developing individual creative capacity,
it’s just, it’s there! The biggest challenges for the Find Your Voice
Choir is logistical and getting 170 people on stage with potentially between 10 and 15
individuals that might use a wheelchair for mobility. That presents an accessibility issue
in its own right. Some of our choir members have vision impairments, other have behavioural
issues that can be really challenging for them to perform particularly in stressful
and anxious situations. But what we find is that everyone comes together and rises above
the nerves. It holds a mirror to people. It makes them
look at their humanity and it shares humanity on stage. But it shares it not in a broken
model, it shares it in an empowered model. One Voice makes a sound on its own but collectively
add 50, 60, 70, 170 voices on stage and the lights come on and the curtain comes up, it’s
just – we are there to do what we do best. It’s quite a unique experience to be in
the heart of the Find Your Voice Choir. The joy that coming together as community and
singing together – there’s power in that. And there’s a component to that that’s
indescribable. So we just love blowing everyone out of the
water and giving them a show like they’ve never seen before. To see families – fathers and daughters,
mothers and sons, friends, community members – to be able to come together and enjoy something
that they’re very very proud of, that it’s not just about rehearsing, that there’s
an outcome and that outcome is so spectacular and so special in what it gives in that experience. If we get the chance, we’re going to blow
the roof off of any arena, any stadium, anywhere in the world that we get the opportunity to
sing.

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