Music can be both fun and therapeutical for children of all ages, and one local teen has been taking time out of his weekends to teach children with Down Syndrome.
Alpharetta resident Josh Kalter has been teaching guitar lessons at Gigi’s Playhouse, a Down Syndrome Awareness Center where parents and children can have a place to get therapeutic play and a sense of community, since September.
He works with children ages 9 and up in six-week sessions, teaching them guitar basics.
“He’s really awesome about keeping it simple,” said Stephanie Chapman, operations manager at Gigi’s Atlanta. “It’s kept to a level that our kids can really respond to it.” Kalter, a Johns Creek High School student, said the guitar lessons bring together two things he enjoys: working with special needs children and music.
“I’ve always worked with kids who have special needs and it’s always been a really rewarding experience for me,” he said. “When you see a kid get a chord right the first time they get a smile that’s priceless.”
In addition to giving his time to the children at Gigi’s, Kalter made the guitar lessons more interactive and accommodating by taking the money he saved over the summer to purchase five guitars for the center.
“When I came to my parents with the idea they were really supportive so we started looking for guitars to let the kids use,” he said. “I did a lot of searching around and we found these cheap but good quality guitars.”
Chapman said the guitars opened the class up so more children can benefit from the music.
Now, some of the parents have purchased guitars for their kids so more instruments are available.
The lessons fit into the mission of Gigi’s by empowering the children through developing different skills.
“We’re getting into lifelong hobbies and life skills,” Chapman said. “We have families that are driving 70 miles round trip to get here, so it makes it worth while to make that drive.”
Kalter will be one of the volunteers honored at the third annual “I Have A Voice” gala Feb. 2.
The gala benefits Gigi’s Playhouse and will include raffle tickets for prizes, including dinner for 12 prepared in the winner’s home by Chef Kevin Rathbun, a trip for four to Ireland and more.