The Allegro Foundation, a Champion for Children with Disabilities, is a nonprofit charitable organization dedicated to working with children facing a range of intellectual and physical disabilities such as Down syndrome, autism, cerebral palsy, cancer and visual and hearing impairments. Allegro focuses on combining cutting edge education and medical expertise to create and advocate for the newest learning techniques for children who face learning challenges. The ultimate goal of Allegro’s program is to teach these children skills that will improve their quality of life.
The Allegro Foundation’s History
The organization was founded in 1991 in Los Angeles and relocated to Charlotte nine years later. In the past 19 years, Allegro has provided a variety of medical, social, emotional and educational services for 11,000 at-risk children with disabilities in North Carolina. To accomplish this, Allegro offers a variety of free community outreach classes to 700 pre-kindergarten and school-age children each week.
Allegro’s approach to education concentrates on the total learning process through learning strategies that focus on both cognitive and muscle memory to encourage sequential and conceptual learning, acquiring and applying problem-solving skills and effective modes of communication. The educational philosophy Allegro endorses centers on building motor skills and physical coordination, while simultaneously prompting significant emotional and physiological changes in the body.
Parents describe the change they witness in their children following educational instruction through the Allegro Foundation as miraculous and life-changing.
“We met Allegro at my son’s school. I went to observe Allegro’s class one day, as I like to see all the activities Joshua is involved in first-hand. I realized Joshua was paying attention and wanted to try everything! Allegro motivates, inspires and has a truly remarkable understanding of how to teach children with disabilities,” Joshua’s mom says.
Allegro’s Founder, Pat Farmer
Pat Farmer, the founder and president of the Allegro Foundation, has earned international renown in the course of her more than 30-year career as a movement education specialist and advocate for children with disabilities.
Pat committed to her life goal of developing an empirically based teaching methodology for children with disabilities as a teenager volunteering in a mental institution for patients with mental retardation. A native Charlottean, Pat transitioned the Allegro Foundation here in 2000.
Under her leadership, the Allegro Foundation has created an educational philosophy based on combining movement instruction with the most current educational and medical expertise available to promote an increased quality of life among children with disabilities.
The educational techniques and philosophy Pat has introduced through the Allegro Foundation has been featured in numerous reference books, international education conferences and in college courses taught by Farmer at UCLA, the University of North Carolina and Duke University. Pat has lectured extensively on education for disabled students at prestigious venues including the Society for the Arts in Healthcare, the North Carolina Arts for Health Training Institute and the VSA International Conference in Washington, D.C.
The Importance of Volunteers
Volunteers are a vital component of Allegro’s success through their one-on-one interaction with children enrolled in the program. You can make a difference to a child dealing with disabilities through a time commitment of 30 minutes to two hours each week.
Allegro depends on volunteers and donations to fulfill its mission as it is an independent charity and does not receive taxpayer funding or support through the United Way or the Arts and Science Council.
The Allegro Foundation has repeatedly been recognized on a national level for its innovative teaching methods. Allegro students made history in 2004 as the first organization of children with disabilities to be invited to perform at The White House. Repeat invitations to return to The White House were issued to Allegro students in 2005 and 2008. In 2006, students received an invitation to perform at the National Independence Day Celebration at the Washington Monument and at Walter Reed Army Medical Center for soldiers wounded in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Allegro has also made a difference on the international level by embarking on a partnership with the U.S. State Department and the Library of Congress to offer learning seminars to international delegations. These seminars feature discourse by international educational and medical experts.
Want to Learn More?
The Allegro Foundation offers classes and programs at select Charlotte-Mecklenburg schools and Sardis Presbyterian Church.
To learn more about how you can change the life of a child by volunteering with the Allegro Foundation, to donate or enroll a student, visit AllegroFoundation.net.
Allegro's major fundraiser, the 11th Annual Ambassador's Ball will be held on Jan. 11, 2020, at Quail Hollow Country Club welcoming special guest, His Excellency, Harris Lalacos, Ambassador of Greece.