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Comfy Concert, Jazz for Babies benefit in Bothell aims to help kids
It can be difficult as a parent to get out and attend a fun event with the family. Being the parent of a special needs child can make it nearly impossible.
Parents in the Bothell High School community, along with choral director Sheri Erickson and senior Thea Snow, are organizing two separate events for families to enjoy and support two good causes.
The Comfy Concert and Jazz for Babies will take place within six days of each other, but both will fill a special niche in the community.
Marie Juchau’s daughter Grace, who has autism, loves music. But like many special needs children, Grace has a tough time singing along or being disruptive during live performances. She can’t even go see her older siblings perform.
“We could tell that she was frustrated and sad that she could not stay for the concerts,” said Juchau. “Because of her love of music I wanted her to have the opportunity to be able to attend musical performances and not have to leave. I also knew of other families who were in the same situation.”
Juchau talked with Erickson, who had the idea for the Comfy Concert. The performance, by Bothell High School choral and band students, is for special needs kids.
“I thought it would be nice to have an event just for (special needs kids),” said Erickson, who has a granddaughter with special needs.
It is designed to be a place where special needs children can be themselves while enjoying a musical performance. They are encouraged to wiggle, sing and dance with the music. But most importantly, enjoy themselves.
“I wish there were more things like this because we would be going to them all the time,” said Juchau, whose daughter performed in the concert last year. “Many families want to be able to take their kids to music events and can’t because their child just makes too much noise.”
Juchau said that there were kids last year who wiggled in their seats and made noise. But it didn’t distract the students on stage.
“It was cute to see the response of the students (on stage),” said Juchau. “They would just smile when someone in the audience would start singing along.”
The second annual Comfy Concert, co-sponsored by the Special Education Parent Advisory Council (SEPAC) and BHS Music Department, will take place at 7 p.m. on Feb. 7.
Parent and SEPAC member Paula Quigg came up with the name of the concert.
“It was to set the tone,” said Quigg, whose daughter was an usher last year. “We want it to be comfortable for the kids and the parents. We want the parents to feel like they don’t have to shush their kids.”
The event also benefits the performers, as the music program participates in their annual solo ensemble competition two days later. The event allows the kids to get used to the butterflies of performing and being interrupted.
“They often don’t get to perform before the contest so it is a nice warmup,” said Erickson. “it is good for them to learn how to play when they are distracted.”
Organizers expect a few more people this year, as word has spread about the event throughout the Northshore School District and beyond. Last year the event drew 75 kids. Erickson said she thinks it is the only concert of its kind locally.
“I know we will have more students performing this year,” said Erickson.
“I think it is unique and it is so nice to have such a supportive community.”
The Comfy Concert has a suggested donation of $5 per family. All children must be accompanied by an adult.
Jazz for Babies
Snow’s event will also help kids, but in a very different way.
She has organized Jazz for Babies to benefit the March of Dimes as a part of her Culminating Project. The event, which will take place at 6 p.m. Feb. 1, will feature the BHS Jazz Choir and Band.
“I am interested in being an event planner later in life and I am very passionate about the March of Dimes,” said Snow, who is a member of the March of Dimes Officer of the Future Business Leader’s of America Chapter. “It is definitely harder than I expected. There has been a lot of paperwork.”
She said that she got some help and advice from BHS music director Phil Dean and Erickson.
“I would really like to see us donate more to the March of Dimes this year,” said Snow. “Last year we were fifth in the nation with $4,000 and this is an extra fund raiser.”
The event has a suggested donation of $7.
The Northshore Performing Arts Center is located on the Bothell High School campus at 9130 N.E. 180th St.