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Special Sounds from Special Singers

Sturgeon Bryan, headshot.
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STURGEON_BRYANStudents from Rio Mesa Post Secondary Adult Transition Program were invited to sing on the stages at The Greek and Margarita Villa, in the Ventura Harbor, by Owner, Lynn Mikelatos. This group of singers is made up of students with Intellectual Disabilities, ages 18 to 22, under the direction of Bryan Sturgeon, ParaEducator, and Connie Brown, teacher, in the Oxnard Union High School District. They love to sing and entertain!

Seven years ago, several in this group started performing at Hueneme High School in the Special Education Program there, under the direction of Dr. Patti Gault, and Tyler Cammack. Their first performance was Grease, which they performed at Hueneme High, as well as Heritage Square in Oxnard. The following summer, they put on a Broadway hits show that was sensational. Since then, the students have graduated from High School and moved on to the Post-Secondary Adult Transition Program, continuing their love for music and acting. Summer musical, Mama Mia was a huge hit with singing, dancing and acting roles for everyone, including students who use wheelchairs.

Lynn Mikelatos, sister of Patti Gault, has watched the group develop over the years. She is amazed at how each of these students once overcome by shyness and withdrawn behaviors, has gained confidence and now exudes enthusiasm. Lynn and sister Patti, joined forces and started a First Friday Night Activity Group, where City Corps Members, and students with special needs, get together to socialize and do community service projects. The sisters were invited to Durban, South Africa, by the Autism Speaks International Organization, to share the program they started in Ventura County. The First Friday Night Group is still going strong, and will add an “Actors Workshop” component, beginning next month. During November, Lynn started a Quilting class, making quilts for babies in need, in Ventura County.

Most of the students in the group attend classes at Ventura College, and participate in the “People First Club”, under the direction of Mr. Steve Turner. The Peoples First Club helps them become self-advocates and exposes them to ways to enrich their lives. The singing group has performed at Ventura College, Oceanview Pavilion, Heritage Square, Sheraton Hotel (Foster Grandparents Program), Rio Mesa High School, and most recently Ventura Harbor. They are open to more venues in 2014.

If you would like to book this singing group for your assisted living home, Kiwanis or Rotary Club, book clubs, etc. please email Dr. Gault at drpattigault@aol. com.

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