A Place To Be to Debut ‘Hope for Christmas’ Film

A Place To Be is teaming up with a Tony-nominated Broadway star to create a special event featuring the original film “Hope for Christmas,” created to help children process their emotions surrounding a holiday season that may be overshadowed by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The nationally recognized music therapy organization works with disabled children and young adults with a mission to change the way the world sees people with life challenges and disabilities.

Since the outbreak of the pandemic, the Middleburg-based nonprofit has adapted its innovative performance-based approach to allow its music therapy clients to continue producing inspiring, positive messages that have been shared with community audiences and thousands of public school students over the past decade. With the transition to telehealth services, the organization is working to double the number of clients it served in direct services programs prior to the pandemic.

The holiday program has been a special undertaking. 

Filmed under COVID restrictions, the production is a partially animated, 30-minute film featuring 22 client/performers and original music by J. Robert Spencer, an actor, voice actor and singer who was nominated for a Tony Award for his work in the Broadway musical “Next to Normal.” 

“As a therapist, I’m deeply concerned about the effects this pandemic has had on our community’s mental health,” said Tom Sweitzer, co-founder and creative director of A Place To Be. “At our music therapy center, we’ve seen a tremendous demand for mental health services—especially involving issues of depression, isolation, and anxiety. These are the very same issues that many people battle every year during the holidays. I wanted to create an event to remind everyone, no matter your challenge, no matter your restrictions, there is hope. Our clients are proof of that.” 

The film will premiere in a one-night-only showing Dec. 20 at 7 p.m. during a special evening with Spencer and clients of A Place To Be. The event will stream live on A Place To Be’s YouTube channel (youtube.com/aplacetobe) and its Facebook page (facebook.com/aplacetobeva).

“Hope and gratitude are extremely powerful antidotes to fear and adversity. We wish this evening entertains and inspires but also helps foster conversations among families about their feelings about the pandemic during the holidays,” Sweitzer said.

A Place To Be is a leader in developing digital content involving music therapy, including its animated series, “The Land of Music,” developed for K-3 students to understand emotions surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic. Featuring lively music and artwork, “The Land of Music” has been shown to thousands of public-school children across the country including in Loudoun and Fairfax Counties Public Schools.

More details of the “Hope for Christmas” event may be found at aplacetobeva.org/hopeforchristmas.

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