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'Banding Together' allows people with disabilities to find their 'jam'

'Jam Sessions' at Home of Guiding Hands in El Cajon are a place for everyone to connect and shine.

EL CAJON, Calif. — Every person on this planet in one way or another is looking for their "jam". In this Zevely Zone, I made some new friends in El Cajon at a jam session to remember. 

The first rule to a good jam session is you have a big entrance, and everyone is a rock star. "You leave your troubles at the door, there is no judgement everyone feels like they are a part of a great rock band," said one of the music leaders at Banding Together. The non-profit organization provides music therapy to anyone who wants to be part of something bigger than themselves.

Credit: Banding Together

Julie Guy couldn't find funding for family fun like this so she did what any rock star would do, she created her own band. "You know I think I get more out of it sometimes than the participants in the program, it really fills my cup, and it fills my heart," said Julie.

It's a place where anyone can kick up their heels and through the power of music make a new friend. "It is so amazing to see how everyone's faces immediately light up when they come into the room, participants and volunteers alike," said Marisa DiCamillo is a Board-Certified Music Therapist.

Credit: Banding Together

Laurie Purcell is a Music Therapist who volunteers her time. "When they come in here, they are free, they are wild and crazy and free," said Laurie. "Music therapy is really more about learning social skills; so you play music, but the goal is to be respectful to each other or to take turns or to give someone else an instrument when you want it."  

Credit: Banding Together

The jam sessions are held in Carlsbad, Chula Vista, Point Loma and in El Cajon at the headquarters of Home of Guiding Hands which is another non-profit that helps people with developmental and intellectual disabilities.  

Laurie is the VP of Residential Services for HGH which has been providing care and support since 1967. HGH is one of the largest providers in San Diego and Imperial Counties, reaching more than 4,200 infants, children, adolescents, and adults with special needs each year. They believe that every person deserves to live the life of their choosing.

Credit: Home of Guiding Hands

Banding Together was founded in 2009 to meet the needs of youth with special needs in the community. Banding Together is a grassroots organization that wouldn't be where it is today without supporters who believe in their mission: to bring unique music opportunities to individuals with special needs in our community.

"You can be having the worst day and be really tired and feel awful and you come here, and it completely changes everything," said Julie. Afterall, when find your circle of friends, life doesn't get any better than that.

Banding Together jams out about sixty times a year. For more information about the program click here.

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