All Abilities Choir

Lauren & Jake Co-directors The All Abilities Choir is a new activity that LIFEDesigns has been able to facilitate for our clients and members of the community. The story about the All Abilities Choir really starts with Jake. Jake is an outgoing young man who loves music and baseball. Like any young person, Jake has big dreams. In recent years, LIFEDesigns has started a new planning process to help our clients identify what their dreams in life are, and set achievable milestone goals to help them make steps toward achieving their dream. Jake participated in this planning process in the past couple years, and through that process, we learned 2 things about Jake: that he really wants to be choir director, and that he wants to learn how to play baseball. In 2014, it was Jake who started our annual talent show for clients. Every year at the talent show it’s been a tradition for everyone who participates to join in together in the very last act and sing a song as a group. They’ve chosen some really fun songs over the years, such as the IU “This is Indiana” song, and the “Can’t Stop This Feeling (Dance, Dance, Dance)” song from the movie Trolls. This annual tradition inspired Jake to ask, “Why can’t we do this more than one time per year? We should practice together more often…” Through this idea and the support of Kristen King, our Community Engagement Coordinator the All Abilities Choir was born. The choir is for anyone who enjoys music. For Jake, “it means coming together and bonding through music”. There are currently 25 members including 5 volunteers who meet every other Wednesday from 4:15-5:15 at Arlington Heights to practice together. Each practice they practice singing 3 songs. Right now they’re giving a lot of time to practicing the National Anthem “Star Spangled Banner” because they’ll be performing that at LIFEDesigns upcoming golf outing, and at a North South Highschool basketball game.

Jake and Lauren (pictured above) are co-directors and help to guide the practices, but everyone involved has the opportunity to share their ideas, and the group tries singing different songs in different ways based on requests from all members. For Lauren, this was a great opportunity to get more involved with the community through volunteering.

“As much as I love studying music in an educational environment, the competitive side of the industry can often bring out the worst in people. There are many musicians both in the educational and real world motivated by self-interest and a desire for notoriety. This has always been a part of the culture of the music world, but I have struggled with this piece of my career and education. Volunteering allows me to reconnect to my own passions and the reason I want to be involved with music—to influence and positively inspire others.” 

We believe this choir is a great example of how volunteers and community members can help to make the community as a whole more inclusive to all people. People with developmental disabilities are so often isolated in society. This choir and LIFEMentor Volunteers are a great way to start making connections between community members and people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. To join the choir, email or call Kristen King or (812) 332-9615.

To see upcoming events where the choir will perform, go to our Event’s page.

Friendships for Our Clients


Meet Jason (pictured above with his team manager Layla)

I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know Jason a little bit over the past couple of months. Jason is someone who is very outgoing, polite, likes to hang out with friends, and really enjoys being around other people.

Jason was born in Bloomington, but grew up hunting and fishing with his “PaPaw” in Bloomfield. He also really enjoyed 4-wheeling and racing go-carts, and always knew the best places to find mushrooms. When he was 15 he was in a very bad car accident and ended up spending the next 5 months of his life at Methodist Hospital in a coma most of the time. When he woke, he did extensive physical therapy and occupational therapy, but experienced traumatic brain injury. After the accident he experienced permanent changes in memory, attention, impulsivity, depression, and anxiety.

I invited Jason to attend the Toast of the Town events at Oliver Winery (June 30), Cardinal Spirits (July 27), and Upland Brewery (August 24), because he seemed interested in attending, and I know he appreciates getting time out in the community to meet new people. He doesn’t have staff supports on the weekends, so I decided to give him a ride to the events myself. During the time I spent with Jason, I learned that he really enjoys his job at Texas Roadhouse, and likes getting to see people from work. He also really wants to be able to meet someone he could have a relationship with. Jason would love to have a family of his own some day.
Reflecting on this, I realize just how important it is for the people LIFEDesigns supports to have friends in their life who aren’t staff. For Jason to get chances to meet someone he might be able to fall in love with, he needs to be able to regularly attend various social activities. Jason is not the only person I’ve gotten to know at LIFEDesigns who feels this way. Our LIFEMentor program is designed to support community members to have positive long term friendships with our clients. It’s such a simple way to have a huge impact. Learn more about becoming a mentor and friend on our volunteer page.