Probably no one who attended Monday’s Rotary Club of Bradenton grant awards lunch in the upstairs ballroom at Pier 22 will ever forget the term, “Musical Motion.”
At the lunch, Katrina Bellemare of Family Partnership Center told the story of a little boy from the area who was still not talking at age three.
“His form of communication was to point and grunt,” Bellemare said.
A friend suggested to the boy’s mom that she should take him to Musical Motion, a Family Partnership Center program where active children can get all their energy out doing play and story time with a Dora the Explorer-type counselor/leader and learn skills at the same time.
The mom at first hesitated, because nothing was working, but then brought the boy, who did not get immediately involved, Bellemare said. But, over time, a change took place.
“One day, the leader was up there with a rhythm stick like you use in marching band and she was working on a concept of up and down,” Bellemare said, lowering and raising imaginary sticks in front of the lunch crowd of roughly 30.
The little boy suddenly said, “Up... down,” Bellemare said.
Those were the first words his mom had ever heard him say, an emotional Bellemare told the crowd.
“He did it on his terms,” Bellemare said. “The mother called us later and, through her tears, said her boy has learned to say other words and to count out loud in English and Spanish.”
The touching story may have shown why a grant committee comprised of members of Rotary Club of Bradenton, who research local not-for-profits, were determined to see Family Partnership Center keep Musical Motion going.
Family Partnership Center, which helps teach parenting skills to parents who don’t possess them, was one of eight organizations that divided $26,250 in grants Monday, announced Rotary Club of Bradenton member Bob Wentzell.
Other grant recipients included Big Brothers Big Sisters in Manatee County, Care Net Manasota Pregnancy Center, Foundation for Dreams, Sister Schools, The Center of Anna Maria, the Blessing Bags Project and an international grant to retrain 80 educators in six schools in India.
The Center of Anna Maria, represented by Kristen Lessig, received a grant to promote health lifestyles by introducing morning exercise and nutrition to group classes, Wentzell said.
Sister Schools, led locally by Eddie Robinette, received a grant to help tutor Spanish and math to children from Guatemala who have a Mayan dialect, Wentzell added.
Big Brothers Big Sisters, represented by Christina Witt, received a grant to fully fund a one-on-one mentorship for at at-risk child in Bradenton for a year.
Foundation for Dreams received a grant to buy 100 weighted belts for current and future campers which help students with autism overcome balance issues during their outdoor activities, said Elena Cassella of Foundation for Dreams.
Care Net Manasota Pregnancy Center received a grant to be used for new and updated lessons which are part of the organization’s learn-while-you-learn program.
The program equips each individual with skills for parenting and learning how to grow as a person, said Kelly Matson of Care Net Manasota Pregnancy Center.
The Blessing Bags Project, represented by Betsy Plante, received a grant that was actually given to them earlier for a homeless children’s Christmas party, Wentzell said.
Since it was started in 1985, The Bradenton Rotary Foundation has given away tens of thousands of dollars to causes members of The Rotary Club of Bradenton have researched and deem worthy, Wentzell added.