Ludwig van Beethoven once said, “Music comes to me more readily than words.” 

Like the renowned composer, David Ramos-Perez, an eighth-grade student and violinist from West Chicago, found his voice through music. As a young boy, he had trouble speaking and socializing with others. When he found the violin, that changed. 

Today, David thrives in Community Outreach for Developing Artists (CODA), a no-cost, grant-funded music instruction program serving more than 450 pre-K, elementary and middle school students in five schools within West Chicago’s School District 33. The program is facilitated by Wheaton College Community School of the Arts and supported by United Way of Metro Chicago through WeGo Together for Kids, our lead partner of the West Chicago Neighborhood Network

Community-schools that serve families varying needs are an important feature of strong neighborhoods. WeGo and other Neighborhood Network partners unite to provide resources and opportunities, like arts and music education, directly to students and their families. 

Through its instruction, CODA encourages students’ musical learning and provides them with tools to succeed in school and life, including time management, responsibility and leadership skills. It also brings students, families and teachers together around a common goal — ensuring the success of the student.

“We want to see children bloom,” said Paula Cisar, director of the Community School of the Arts at Wheaton College. “We want to put students on a trajectory to build themselves and their self-confidence and make them better citizens who will contribute to their community.” 

Watch the video below to see David and his violin classmates in action!


Video by Courtney Morrison