JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Studies show listening to music can improve your mood, health and quality of life, that’s why Duval County Public Schools is adopting a music therapy program for children with special needs.

“Connecting Thru Music” is helping students like Dylan Stanley, 7, communicate with others.

“When I heard about the program, I was like 'This is great, because this is going to be right up Dylan’s alley,'” Dylan’s mother, Dominique Stanely said. “He’s been enrolled in the therapy program at Neptune Beach Elementary School for one year now, and I’ve definitely watched his vocabulary ability to articulate, improve drastically.”

The music therapy class is designed to help non-verbal children with special needs. Music therapists help students learn simple and complex tasks, as well as non-verbal skills like eye-contact, using instruments, repetitive music, tempo and colors.

Local mom, Karen Demuth, launched the program in 2018.

“Being the mother of a non-verbal, special needs child, I see how music has changed his life and the atmosphere surrounding special education,” Demuth said. “I would love to see this program grow to all schools in Duval County and that is our long-term goal.”

The program costs $80,000 to operate per school, each year. If you would like to get involved or donate, click here.