Young people with disabilities have been taking part in the U Music Group, run by local musician Dennis Kadmon and his partner Anne-Marie Becu, at the Leongatha Uniting Church in South Gippsland for nine years.
The group of eight to 12 people, mostly now in their 30s but who have been part of the group since its beginning, meet at the old church building every Wednesday to make music and socialise.
The group’s band Free Spirits performs annually at the Leongatha Uniting Church Christmas concert and other events.
“The aim is to enjoy the experience of making original music,” Ms Becu, who is a retired teacher, said.
“They love it. They express their love of the program every week.”
Stamp collecting and fund-raising fellowship Sammy Stamp presented U Music with $2000 last month following the successful application made by Leongatha mission group member Wendy Holm.
“It’s an incredible program,” Ms Holm said of U Music.
“They are very supportive of each other and they encourage each other and have gained such confidence and feelings of self-worth. It is really incredible to see how these young people have developed.
“It’s given them a belief in themselves and what they are able to do as well as being able to increase their potential as musicians. It also makes them part of a bigger area in the community.”
Ms Holm said she had seen many of the group’s members grow in social skills.
“When I started going about three-and-a-half years ago to see these people perform, if anyone new went in they wouldn’t speak to you,” she said.
Now the U Music members are much more likely to talk to new people and two even made speeches at the party where the Sammy Stamp donation was handed over.
Ms Holm said the donation and the party had generated enthusiasm among church members.
She said the Sammy Stamp donation was very welcome especially as the instruments still in use were largely donated second-hand 10 years ago.
Ms Becu said the Sammy Stamp donation will buy new leads, an amp and microphone.
Some of the money is also being used to record the group during their Wednesday sessions as part of the Brave Souls Dare project.
The recordings, which happen progressively over the Wednesday sessions, will be edited into a keepsake for each of the group’s participants.