A Catalyst for Improving Self Identity and Competence Through Community Mobilization

What if children with or without disabilities could successfully participate in activities that increases their friendship and self-esteem.

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Founding Story: Share a story about a key experience or spark that helps the network understand why this project got started or a story about how you became inspired about the potential for this project to succeed.

My story starts with a 9 year old young girl named Mary Ann who could not participate in our bell choir because she was blind. Our group used Kodaly Handsigns to read music. I promised her that I would one day create a way for the blind to play bell choir music. After 33 years of failed attempts, my invention (ARBECY) uses vibration signals for the blind to read music. ARBECY's success soon spread to the deaf and other disabilities. Soon, family & community members joined in to perform.

Which categories describe you? (the answer will not be public)

  • Black or African American (for example: African American, Jamaican, Haitian, Nigerian, Ethiopian, Somalian)



Location: Where is your organization headquartered? [State]

  • Nevada

Location: Where is your organization headquartered? [City]

Las Vegas

Location: Where is your project primarily creating impact? [State]

  • Nevada

Location: Where is your project primarily creating impact? [City]

Las Vegas, Nevada New Orleans, Louisiana Lafayette, Louisiana Lake Charles, Louisiana San Bernadino, California

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

This project offers an IMMEDIATE SHIFT in community mindsets that have failed to meet it’s own populations' needs. My new invention, ARBECY, creates success in children which is IMMEDIATE, INEXPENSIVE, ALL POPULATION INCLUSIVE (regardless of disability or ability), and SELF IDENTITY CATYLIZED. Today’s Disenfranchised Communities are divided by their neighborhood diversity instead of be “EMPOWERED BY THEIR DIVERSITY”. This project presents ARBECY as tool (Catalyst) to bring together children of all cultures disabilities and abilities to create a community bell choir (see video). Children are naturally accepting of diversity and impacted by performing arts and audiences' applaud. Children in this project will be molded by it’s 2 minute performance success. ARBECY Music makes acceptance easier to experience. Live Performances enhances & creates identity AND competency in children. .

Any solution in today's world must be "Evidence Based" with "IMMEDIATE" signs of success and goodwill.  Community volunteers give their precious time selectively and want to know that their time counts toward a Big Picture that is immediately viewable.  ARBECY has children with no music background or experience (disabled and non-disabled) performing Bach & Chopin within 2 minutes of training.  The solution to facilitate wellbeing and belonging with an easy activity that rewards the participants, volunteers, and audience.  Since 1977, every one of these performances has welcomed "Happy Tears" from audiences and family members.

The leaders of this project ARE NOT “ELECTED LEADERS” of our communities; they are “SELECTED LEADERS” of our communities that have participated in ARBECY Community Projects.  Many are children who are blind, autistic, racially diverse, young & old, deaf and deaf-blind,  mentally & physically “Challenged, Normal OR Exceptional”.   

Our project’s community-based solution creates and nurture successful building blocks for children by ensuring they grow up with a strong sense of self, purpose, and belonging.  A few most promising aspects of this project are:

  1.  It’s Sustainable
  2. It’s  Replicable Model for other communities;
  3. It creates “Self Sufficiency” via fundraising abilities for future years; and
  4. It creates an “All Inclusive” army of community members (regardless of ability/disability, race, creed, age, etc)

The most innovative and impactful dimensions of this project are:

  1. It's "Quick & Easy" to set up;
  2. It's ability to sustain and build it's own funding;
  3. It's adaptability to other projects who need longterm population engagement, funding, and public image branding; 
  4. It's ability to create "Seamless Collaboration" between projects that appear to have nothing in common; and 
  5. It's ability to create "Lasting Friendships"  between ARBECY members this project and the "Changemakers of the Future"

This project can be replicated anywhere in the world. It also expands the current Changemaker Leaders Membership to include: Blind, Deaf-Blind, Cerebral Palsy, Disabled Veterans, GSW Victims (ie: Gabby Giffords-Tucson Congresswoman) or Orlando Shooting Victims (June 2016 victims of mass shootings in Florida etc) and technology giants from Microsoft, HP, and many others. 

As ARBECY's inventor is self-funded and only patent holder. I can make decisions for the use of ARBECY in the future Changemake projects for many innovated projects. The ARBECY Effect releases creativity and joy that is already inside of a person.  It is a catalyst for change. The change already exists inside of everyone. 

Is your model focused on any of the following traditionally underserved communities?

  • Communities of color
  • Children who are differently abled
  • LGBTQ or non-binary individuals
  • Religious minorities (non-Christian)
  • Low-income communities

Does your model work within any of the following sectors?

  • Childcare
  • Child and Family Services
  • Community Development and Empowerment
  • Criminal Justice
  • Education
  • Mental Health

Year Founded


Project Stage

  • Established (the solution has passed the previous stages, and has demonstrated success)

Example: Walk the network through a specific example of what happens when a person or group engages with your solution.

In 2009, Arius was the youngest member of our Blind Bell Choir (Blind Center of Nevada in Las Vegas). He refers to himself as my adopted son (and so do I). Before ARBECY came into his life, Arius was plagued with isolation and loneliness. He was a target for delinquency and ill-intended relationships. Soon he became my "assistant" in the bell choir and helped with equipment and the attendance roster. His participation and interest in ARBECY was proportional to his improvements we all witnessed in his life. Although I was a volunteer at the Blind Center, Arius often called me daily to talk about his ideas for the bell choir and new music that he could obtain for the group. Today, Arius lives on his own as an independent young adult

Impact: What was the impact of your work last year? Please also describe the projected future impact for the coming years.

Three elements of "Progress Planning" were created last year. #1 University of New Orleans TRAC Department adopted ARBECY as a project for the future. They have agreed to help facilitate seminars for Social Workers (LCSW included), Music Therapist, Psychologist, Occupational Therapist, Art Therapists, and local students from 8 colleges and universities. New Orleans television, radio, and newspapers were very receptive to potential projects in coming years. #2 Blind & Deaf Blind Associations in 5 states want to start planning demonstration projects at their facilities to assist families and local communities. They are excited about the impact of ARBECY as a "Family Activity" so that isolation at home is significantly reduced (also, plans for church choirs). A total of 742 families will be impacted by these efforts. #3 Expansion into School Districs and communities in 5 states.

Organization Type

  • hybrid

Annual Budget

  • $250k - $500k

Financial Sustainability Plan: What is your solution’s plan to ensure financial sustainability?

Since 2009, local performances has created donations from organizations throughout Las Vegas. After performing the "Star Spangled Banner" for a hockey game in the Orleans Arena, donations to the Blind Center increased over 35%. Local communities, churches, and schools donate their building space, support services, and advertisement. Also, nursing homes and assisted living facilities request performances and always donate dollars to help.

Unique Value Proposition: How else is this problem being addressed? Are there other organizations working in the same field, and how does your project differ from these other approaches?

I want to donate a significant amount of ARBECY's sales & manufacturing to You (Changemakers). The unique value of this project is unique in many ways. ARBECY belongs to this world. It has "For-Profit Value" and "Non-Profit Value". My dream is to create a Changemaker approach that enables inventors and innovators to "Change the World". I believe ARBECY could help facilitate funding for Changemakers throughout the world. Let's work together and enhance Changemaker's Sustainability so that other innovators like me will have this unique opportunity to create and sustain change in our world.

Reflect on the Field and its Future: Stepping outside of your project, what do you see as the most important or promising shifts that can advance children’s wellbeing?

It truly takes a village to help develop and sustain the well-being of children. Although the obstacles in society are great, we must continue the "good fight" to save our children. It won't happen automatically and no one can be forced into "caring for our children". Music has been such a wonderful gift to this world. I truly believe ARBECY helps to release the "Healing Power of Music" in our children. Our hopes and dreams for children's well being is paved with music and song. Although it took many years of music training to create my musical ability, ARBECY can ndo it in 2 minutes.

Source: How did you hear about the Children’s Wellbeing Challenge? (the answer will not be public)

  • Changemakers.com

Referral: If you discovered the Challenge thanks to an organization or person other than Ashoka, who was it? (the answer will not be public)

My wonderful wife, Pamela Simon, has been the voice to push ARBECY since 1977.

Evaluation results

4 evaluations so far

1. Relevance: Does this project seem to help children (ages 0 to 12 years) develop a strong sense of self, belonging, and purpose?

5 - Yes, this is great! The project lays out a strong, compelling case for how its model nurtures children’s wellbeing. - 0%

4 - It seems like a good fit, and the model talks explicitly about children’s wellbeing. - 50%

3 - I think so. The project seems related to children’s wellbeing, but the logic is vague. - 25%

2 - Not sure. The project doesn’t have much to do with wellbeing, or it doesn’t give enough information. - 25%

1 - Nope, this project definitely doesn’t fit the challenge brief (e.g., It doesn’t help kids younger than 12, isn’t in the U.S., etc.) - 0%

2. Innovation: Does this project tackle children’s wellbeing from a new angle?

5 - I loved this! The project describes a novel model that addresses important cultural or systemic barriers. - 0%

4 - This is pretty cool. The project is addressing an important problem in a new or compelling way. - 50%

3 - I feel like there’s something there, but I want more details about what makes it distinctive. - 50%

2 - It’s a good project, but I’ve seen others like it before. - 0%

1 - It was confusing or hard to tell what it made it different. - 0%

3. Social Impact: What is this project’s potential for creating positive social impact?

5 - Lots of potential. This project is achieving impressive results, and it’s growing quickly. It could absolutely inspire changes in the ways we approach caring for kids nationally, across sectors (e.g. childcare, healthcare, education). - 0%

4 - Pretty good potential. This project demonstrates significant positive impact so far, and it could scale regionally or nationally one day and fundamentally change how a system operates (e.g. childcare, healthcare, education). - 25%

3 - Budding potential. This project is creating local impact, but it would take a few adjustments before it could scale. - 25%

2 - Some potential. This project demonstrates some initial positive impact, but it would require major changes before it could scale. - 25%

1 - Limited potential. This project has great intentions, but it looks like it does not include key drivers of a shift towards children’s wellbeing. - 25%

4. Overall, how do you feel about this idea?

5 - This idea rocked my world. It’s awesome! - 0%

4 - This idea seems really exciting. With a little more polishing, it’d be among my favorites. - 25%

3 - I think the idea is great, but it needs some work before it moves onto the next round. - 25%

2 - I liked it fine but preferred others. - 50%

1 - It didn’t make my heart beat faster. Needs significant revisions. - 0%

5. Offer some feedback. Where should this participant spend some time revising?

DEFINING THE PROBLEM. Make sure to articulate the root causes or main barriers of the social issue your project addresses. (Founding Story, Problem, Solution). - 50%

CLARITY OF MODEL. Make sure to mention (a.) the beneficiary, b) the main activities, and c) how those activities drive social impact. Keep it streamlined! - 50%

MARKETPLACE. Make sure to research other players in this space and articulate how this project is different. I didn’t get a complete sense of how this project compares to others. - 0%

IMPACT POTENTIAL. Make sure to use specific numbers to describe what your project has achieved so far! And consider how you might scale the model or its insights, through partnerships, trainings, or franchising. - 100%

WRITING STYLE. Try to stay concise and make it vivid. Avoid jargon. - 50%

Nothing stands out! I thought it was great. - 0%


Join the conversation:

Photo of lucia

Hi, I think that this is a great idea and really needs to be taken to the next level. I live in Colorado and have played ice hockey all my life and at the YMCA we have a team called the "Ice Wizards" that is a hockey team just for kiddos with special needs and disabilities. I have gone out on the ice with them a few times to help out and they are just the sweetest kids in the world and have the biggest smile on there face. Also at my High School we have a basketball team for the special needs kids and they have practices, games and the entire schools support. It's just great to see that. I think things like this need to be all over the world, just because someone is different than one of us does not mean they should not be given the same opportunity as us. Good luck!

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