Burbank Neighborhood Leadership classmates work together to raise funds and in-kind donations of materials and labor to renovate the Music and Exercise Room for BCR ~ “a place to go”. Four BCR groups use the room on a rotation basis every day for music appreciation, exercise and to rehearse singing and dancing for their annual holiday program.
By Joyce Rudolph
The Burbank Neighborhood Leadership Program illustrated the true meaning of team work when classmates unveiled the renovated Music and Exercise Room at BCR ~ “a place to grow” during a ribbon-cutting celebration on May 15.
BCR "A Place to Grow" clients view the new television in the updated gym and music room (Photo by Joyce Rudolph)
About a dozen participants are selected in the fall and begin meeting in January once a week for workshops that are educational, interactive and experimental. The class culminates with a graduation ceremony in June, said Viviana Ardila, community resources coordinator with the city of Burbank and supervisor of the leadership class. The leadership program is part of the Connect with Your Community Initiative and Burbank’s Park, Recreation, and Community Services Department.
The purpose is to enhance personal and interpersonal skills while building future community leaders. One of the requirements is for the team to complete a community project, Ardila said
Burbank Neighborhood Leadership Program unveiled the refurbished gym and music room for BCR "A Place to Grow" on Tuesday, May 15. Client Arbeh Mivzakhanian tries out the step machine as his mother Hasmik and father Artoush watch. (Photo by Joyce Rudolph)
“The role of this project beside doing something positive for this community is for the students to put into practice all leadership skills and lessons that we teach them on Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.,” she said.
Project chair Elle Fernandez said there were 13 people who worked on the project for three months, coming up with a budget and a design, then raising funds and doing the work themselves or securing in-kind help and donations from community businesses.
“Our hope is that the design is not just beautiful but practical,” she said.
The group raised $2,300 with two events, she said, a Coffee and Doughnut sale and a Picnic Around the World in which members cooked a special dish that represented the country they were from originally and sold tickets to family and friends. They also raised more than $1,600 in in-kind donations of labor and materials.
“Every member of the team put not only their heart but their special and unique personality and ability into the project. And, we did it!” she said. “I am very proud of all of you and it was an honor to work with you.”
The team patched the holes in the walls, added a chair rail and painted the walls. Members also updated the sound proof covers and purchased exercise equipment, yoga balls, a sound system, exercise mats, a flat-screen TV and wii system that will lead clients in exercise inside when it is too hot to exercise during the summer.
BCR is a private, non-profit 501(c)(3) corporation that began in 1963 and provides day activities and extended day care programs for children and adults with developmental disabilities — mental retardation, autism spectrum disorder, cerebral-palsy, seizure disorders and other disabling conditions. Clients come from Burbank, Glendale, the San Fernando Valley and Los Angeles County.
Lonna Dunson, executive director of BCR "A Place to Grow", and parent Sadie Fudil take a look at the refurbished gym and music room. (Photo by Joyce Rudolph)
Four groups use the room on a rotating basis every day, said Lonna Dunson, BCR executive director. They exercise, listen to music played on the piano and rehearse for their annual holiday program in the room.
“The leadership class did so much more than we ever dreamed of,” Dunson said. “They were resourceful in knowing who to contact to get things done, were efficient and are just nice people to work with.”
Maria Diliberto, program supervisor at BCR, thought the change was “fabulous”.
“I think that the clients always deserve the best,” she said. “And the more they are able to do here, the more self-confidence they have going out into the community.”
For more information on the Burbank Neighborhood Leadership Program, call Viviana Ardila at (818) 238-5322. To contact BCR, call (818) 843-4907.