DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) – United Rehabilitation Services of Greater Dayton has started a new evidenced-based Empowerment-Drumming Program or “drum circle” proven to improve participants’ quality of life.

The program, titled HealthRHYTHMS, was developed by Cincinnati neurologist, Dr. Barry Bittman.

A release from URS detailing the new program said, “Research has proven the drum circles’ health benefits include strengthening the immune system, fostering a sense of self-worth, increased attentiveness and active participation, broadening social connections, and helping with anger management and conflict resolution.”

“30 to 40 percent of people with developmental disabilities have a co-occurring mental health challenge,” said Dennis Grant, executive director of URS of Greater Dayton. “A lot of times, it is anxiety or depression, and this really helps them overcome those challenges.”

Dawn Ross is a URS client who has been participating in the drum circle, and said when she plays the instruments, it transports her to her happy place – the beach.

“I like the drums, and to close my eyes and relax,” said Ross.

And that seems to be a common reaction among those participating.

“When we talk to the individuals that participate, one is they simply enjoy it, but at the end they talk about feeling more relaxed, feeling happy, and what more do you want than that?” said Grant.

They incorporate more instruments than just drums into the program that was made possible with support from the Phil Rizzo Fund for Students in the Miami Valley, the Robert L. and Jean Penny Fund of the Dayton Foundation and the Gorman-Hewitt-Ayars Fund.

URS has three staff members certified to lead the HealthRHYTHMS program.