The Athens County Community Singers (ACCS), a non-profit organization, is a "choir for all voices", those with and without disabilities. Formed in 2013, founder and director, Stephanie H. Morris, MM, MT-BC, and Neurologic Music Therapy Fellow wanted a community-based group in Athens County Ohio. Before its formation, many individuals with disabilities had never had an opportunity to perform, however, with the creation of the choir, many are now able to fulfill their dream of belonging to a performance group and give back to their community. Most importantly, the Athens County Community Singers was created specifically to allow those with and without disabilities to perform together in an environment, which promotes inclusion and acceptance no matter what that individual’s abilities or disabilities. While some choir members are challenged to communicate in a traditional way, their smiles and vocalizations give evidence to their enjoyment of music and being a part of the group.
Since it started, the adult group of Athens County Community Singers (ACCS) has grown from a core group of 12 – 15 singers to a current enrollment of 30+. During its early years, the choir performed all around Athens County, the state of Ohio and even performed in Vienna, WV in 2017. The choir has produced its own concerts, but has also provided entertainment for specific events in the areas listed above. During the COVID-19 Pandemic, the director, with the assistance of Central Ohio Music Therapy, LLC and the newly created OCATS (Ohio Creative Arts Therapy Services) offered virtual rehearsals for the adult choir members who had access to the proper equipment and support to participate. For many participating in the virtual setting, rehearsals became the highlighted activity for the week in the midst of total shut down. Since in-person performances were not allowed, the choir provided videos during the 2020 – 2021 choir year and know that if necessary, this is a way for the group to show off their hard work. Depending on state requirements and the safety of choir members, the director and members are planning to provide in-person performances in the future.
Stephanie H. Morris, MM, MT-BC and Neurologic Music Therapy Fellow completed her Masters of Music in Music Therapy at Ohio University in August 2014. She earned her Bachelor of Music degree from East Carolina University in Greenville, N.C. in 1982. She is married to Matthew B. Morris, Instructor of Bassoon and Theory at Ohio University and is the mother of two boys, Blane and Thomas (Kate, wife). She is the founder and director of the Athens County Community Singers, “A Choir for All Voices”, the unique performing group for individuals with and without disabilities from the Athens County area as well as Beacon Singers, a transitional group for students with special needs. Stephanie acts as the Internship Director for Central Ohio Music Therapy, LLC. and is an active Ohio Music Educator.