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The Music Settlement brings programs to communities that might have struggled to find them before

Posted at 8:37 AM, Oct 14, 2019

CLEVELAND — The Music Settlement's Ohio City location brings its 107-year history of music programs to a new community.

It wasn't long ago that Nathaniel Callaway struggled to answer questions from anyone about how he felt, or what was bothering him.

Then, he started going to The Music Settlement for music therapy.

"In order to live in this society, he needs that," said Nathaniel's grandmother, Ophelia Callaway.

She's been raising Nathaniel since he was six months old, helping him navigate the world with autism and ADHD.

Before these sessions, he'd get aggressive when he'd get upset.

"Tantrums, those were the things we noticed," said Ophelia.

Now, Board Certified Music Therapist Alison Deran, MT-BC works with Nathaniel to use music to calm down and communicate what he feels.

"We've been learning to identify our feelings and play our feelings on the drum," said Deran.

For the last century, The Music Settlement has been in University Circle, working with children like Nathaniel but also adults who want to learn an instrument, veterans battling PTSD and people who have previously been in prison and are trying to get back into society.

"They use music as a very therapeutic tool to address some other issues that are going on in their life," said The Music Settlement Marketing Manager Kate Bucaro.

But Bucaro says the east side location could be hard for anyone on the west side to get to, so The Music Settlement expanded its reason, opening a second location near the corner of Detroit Avenue and West 25th Street in Ohio City.

"We're literally and figuratively bridging out past to our future," said Bucaro.

"We really don't try to have a one-size-fits-all approach," said Bucaro. "We really want to tailor the programs to be what the people want."

That makes it much easier for west siders to get the same help Nathaniel has benefited from so far.

"I see a kid who, in the future, will be able to control his emotions and regulate his emotions," said Ophelia. "When people tell me it's going to get worse and this is what you have to look forward to, that's not my life, that's not his life.

This story is part of A Better Land, an ongoing series that investigates Northeast Ohio's deep-seated systemic problems. Additionally, it puts a spotlight on the community heroes fighting for positive change in Cleveland and throughout the region. If you have an idea for A Better Land story, tell us here.