Highschool Student with Visual Impairment Raises $280K to Fund the Arts

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Highschool Student with Visual Impairment Raises $280K to Fund the Arts
Daniel Solomon

Artsfest at Pinecrest Gardens was the culmination of the five year student-led work toward bringing awareness to inclusive arts programming for South Miami-Dade Public Schools.

In seventh grade, Daniel Solomon walked into the orchestra supply closet to get rosin, a 50-cent necessity for orchestra instruments to produce sound. There was none.

“We could not afford it,” Daniel Solomon, 17, who is a junior at Miami Palmetto Senior High School said. “I saw everything as if for the first time. The instruments were broken and decayed. Our teacher was part-time. These were not the signs of a thriving program.”

From that day forward, Daniel has focused on music and advocacy for inclusive musical arts programming in Pinecrest’s public schools.

On Saturday March 20, the Pinecrest City Music Project (PCMP), a fully student-run nonprofit founded by Daniel in 2018, presented the Inaugural South Miami- Dade Schools ArtsFest at Pinecrest Gardens, 11000 Red Road. The event ran from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. The event was free with $5 park admission.

ArtsFest showcased arts programs from 67 Miami-Dade Public Schools in South Miami-Dade. Jazz, orchestral, and band groups performed in a staggered layout throughout the lower gardens, allowing attendees to walk through and enjoy the performances. Accounting for Covid regulations set forth by the county, attendees will travel via one-way paths through Pinecrest Gardens’ shaded winding paths. Guests were able to appreciate students’ works in the visual arts alongside specially curated arts-sensory exhibits designed for youth with neurodiversities.

Solomon, visually impaired since birth, uses his disability as a vehicle to inspire peers of all abilities to effectuate positive change by engaging with their community about topics they care about.

To-date, the program has raised more than $280,000 through government grants and monetary/in-kind contributions. Funds are used to provide eight free, high quality weekly programs in addition to cultural arts events throughout the South Miami-Dade community.

The non-profit also offers an all-girl STEM-music coding program sponsored by GeorgiaTech.

PCMP’s story is one of incredible success – but Daniel says it would not be possible without the help of 500 students, 30 student-staff, community members and Pinecrest, where Daniel lives.

“Be it via in-kind or monetary contributions, counsel or general support. What Pinecrest provides for PCMP is unique. It truly embodies the spirit of #PinecrestKind,” said Daniel, who is the youngest member of the Miami-based Alhambra Orchestra.

Ava Goldenberg, 16, who is a Miami Palmetto High School sophomore, serves as the assistant executive director of PCMP. She volunteers her time to “help students find their love for music”. In her view, the non-profit is the heart of Pinecrest and symbolizes a crossroads between opportunity and community effort.

In addition to being the executive and musical director of PCMP, Daniel serves as the Miami Palmetto Student Council Treasurer and is a member of the Pinecrest Mayor’s Youth Advisory Council. In January of 2020, he went to Washington, D.C. to meet with Senators Rick Scott and Marco Rubio, and Congresswoman Donna Shalala in support of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).

Further solidifying the organization’s mission of inclusivity, the PCMP is currently in development of a four-tenet diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) strategic plan in partnership with other Miami-based nonprofits and government agencies to provide equitable arts education for all in our community.

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