Blaine-based nonprofit Achieve Services was recognized with a statewide award for its group Dance at Your Own Risk this week.
On July 20, Achieve Services accepted a 2020 Life Enrichment Award from the Minnesota Organization for Habilitation and Rehabilitation, also known as MOHR.
“MOHR member providers help foster community connections for the people we support benefiting the entire community,” MOHR President Julie Johnson said. “Communities are stronger when everyone is included.”
Dance At Your Own Risk was started by training specialist Joe Loskota. It produces original music for audiences using iPads and the Garage Band application.
“We are super honored to get an award, and we certainly didn’t do it for an award but to be creative and give these folks an opportunity to express themselves,” Loskota said. “Because I, as a musician, I knew how music connects with people.”
Key to this musical effort is helping people express their emotions and getting everyone involved.
“The program is exceptional because our participants with disabilities do it all,” Achieve Development Director Jennifer Dieter said. “They write the lyrics and music, record and sell original music and perform for the public.”
One of the missions of DAYOR is to use music to bridge the gap between people with disabilities and the greater community. The group “jams” with students at Washburn High School and is respected by them, she explained. One of their songs, “I love the Northstar,” drew the system’s director of commuter rail to an album release party. The song’s writer, Josh, was made an honorary engineer for the rail line.
The DAYOR band was formed in 2013. Loskota often sets the key, and participants with disabilities set the rhythm and decide how to incorporate the lyrics. With their help, Loskota then creates professional quality recordings to sell. There have been seven albums to date.
“Achieve is fortunate to have a staff member like Joe who is able to complete his regular job duties and dedicate some of his personal time to ensure the quality of the final product,” Dieter said.
Achieve Services is one of more than 100 members of MOHR. The association advocates for and supports its nonprofit members which provide meaningful services to persons with disabilities and communities across Minnesota. Members are committed to respect for each individual, a person-centered approach and expanding opportunities. More information is available at mohrmn.org.
~Compiled by Connor Cummiskey