Disability is a Metaphor for Difference

Today, the topic of diversity and inclusion is taking center stage. It is at the forefront of almost every news story, dinner conversation, social media channel and beyond. However, when people think of the word diversity, disability is not top of mind. In fact, it is barely in the consideration set despite the fact that according to the 2015 census, there are over 40 million people who are living with a disability – making it the largest minority in the country. It has no prejudice and is the only minority group that can be joined at any time due to age, illness or accident. Most importantly, more than 50 percent of Americans report having a family member or close friend with a disability, so there is a high likelihood that most everyone will interact with someone with a disability in their lifetime. Like all minority groups, individuals with disabilities face a distinct set of circumstances and challenges, but through the universal language of music, people can now have the opportunity to appreciate their talents, abilities and all that they have to offer the world.

Building a Bridge Through Music

At Daniel’s Music Foundation (DMF), a non-profit organization founded in 2006 to empower individuals with disabilities through music, we are using music as the instrument to build a more inclusive society. Today, inside the four walls of our 8,700-square foot, custom-built music center in NYC, we serve thousands of participants annually through a variety of music programs – an accomplishment that has proven to be the introduction to something even greater – an attitudinal shift addressing the misnomer of placing limitations on individuals with disabilities. Our purpose and objective is to change perception by creating the opportunity for people of all abilities to engage with and appreciate each other while experiencing the joy of music together.

The DMF Diversity Awareness Through Music Initiative

The DMF Diversity Awareness Through Music Initiative is a free volunteer program for organizations that allows people to see the “ability” in disability. Through story-telling, videos and music, we have designed an informative, engaging and interactive experience that results in participants often feeling a transformative sense of camaraderie, while simultaneously helping shape a mindset of understanding and mutual respect.

Organizations of all-types and sizes are welcome to participate in the DMF Diversity Awareness Through Music Initiative. To date, we have established a variety of ongoing relationships through meaningful programs with the employees, members and students of countless corporations, organizations and schools. Whether hosted on-site at our music center or off-site at a partner location, together we have developed impactful programs and started the important conversation about the misnomer of placing limitations on individuals with disabilities. There are a variety of programs available:

On-Site: 2-hour program, for up to 20 participants, includes an orientation followed by volunteering in classes at our custom-built, state-of-the-art music center in East Harlem

Off-Site: 1-hour program, for an unlimited number of participants that reinforces the Diversity Awareness Initiative and includes a music component at a suitable and convenient off-site location

Custom: We are also comfortable collaborating to develop a unique program that is mutually beneficial, either as a one-time event or a series (i.e. concerts, panels, song composition class, DMF Junior Council, etc.) that best suits the needs of our partners.

We invite you to join us in during this very exciting time and help us change even more lives through music. Click here to learn more about the DMF Diversity Awareness Through Music Initiative or contact Carla Sullivan [email protected] or 212.289.8912 to learn how you can become a DMF Diversity Partner today.


“After two days of business planning we loosened our ties and traveled uptown to DMF… by volunteering in a music class all of our inhibitions and tensions flowed out and heart-warming spirit flowed in, as we engaged with the DMF classmates. After leaving we felt a stronger sense of community with DMF and also camaraderie as a team. We danced and sang all the way back to the office!”
— -Bank of America Merrill Lynch

“…Daniel’s Music is a place filled with love and equality. I think what they really value is the environment…which is a warm and sensitive center that invites everyone to take the chance to enjoy the happiness in life…To me Daniel’s story provided a broader meaning – life is full of surprises and you just need to live in the moment. His generosity and kindness opens up the possibility for people with disabilities.”
— The Juilliard School

“Thank you so much for welcoming Saint David’s to Daniel’s Music! The boys were so touched by the program, and thanks to you learned about difference, empathy, compassion and above all had a great time! Your intro was spectacular, oriented the boys, and really put them in the mindset of openness and acceptance”
— Saint David’s School

Daniel’s Music Foundation

1595 Lexington Avenue, 2nd floor
New York, NY 10029.

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