Music In Me
Each Monday afternoon what might be described as a cacophony of joy is heard coming from the pediatric playroom at UF Health Shands Children’s Hospital. Thanks to musician and music educator, David Ford of Tonewood Family Music, Inc., patients of all ages and their families are invited to sing, dance, and play a variety of instruments to express that we all have “Music in Me!” While the hospital experience can often be scary, stressful, and even painful, this musical experience never fails to produce a lot of noise and even more smiles on the part of the kids themselves, their parents, and every nurse or staff member nearby. The obvious benefits to the children include laughter and a positive mood, the expression of sometimes intense feelings through the songs and the banging of drums or other instruments, and the welcome escape from the challenges of being ill, injured, and “stuck in the hospital.” David has a wonderful technique of using familiar songs, but incorporating silly new lyrics and empowering messages into the group. The children direct the songs and games with suggestions from their imaginations – expressing any wacky, emotive, or imaginative idea that comes mind – and get to see their suggestions made into music. For parents, theability to get away from medical routines for a few minutes and to see their child happily “being a child” is tremendously gratifying. One parent recently remarked with tears in her eyes, “I haven’t seen my son this happy all week, what a gift!”
Chords of Caring
There are very few things more stressful to a family than the mad dash to the pediatric emergency department. In these uncertain moments, parents are seeking help from medical professionals, and kids are looking to their parents for comfort. It may seem unlikely that in such a situation, a musician would stop in and ask the family if they would like to hear a song. But at UF Health Shands Children’s Hospital, music is part of the care.
Professionally trained musicians through the UF Health Arts in Medicine program work closely with nursing and physician staff to help address the stress associated with a visit to the Pediatric ED. We understand that live, preferential music can ease that stress, and help children focus through a positive interaction. That shift in focus helps lower blood pressure, reduce perception of pain, and open lines of communication critical to delivering medical interventions. At UF Health Shands Children’s Hospital, the power of music is used to transform the patient experience.
The chords of caring program is supported in conjunction with the Avnee Foundation.
Tonewood Family Music Scholarship
Tonewood is the name given to a variety of wood that has inherent musical potential. Tonewood Family Music believes that children are like tonewood — each child has the potential to become a beautiful instrument; he or she just needs to have the right experience, environment, and – most importantly – involvement. The Avnee Foundation supports music scholarships at Tonewood Family Music.
Southwest Advocacy Group (SWAG)
The Southwest Advocacy Group (SWAG) is a grassroots, community-based organization that works to improve the living conditions, health, educational opportunities and quality of life in a low-income area of Gainesville, Florida. SWAG partners with many organizations to bring resources needed to serve the SWAG community, and those partnerships have led to the creation of the SWAG Family Resource Center, the SW Health Clinic and the CHILD Center for Early Learning.
The Avnee Foundation has established a lasting relationship with SWAG, and supports its mission by assisting with funding a number of children’s programs.
At the SWAG Family Resource Center, the foundation has assisted in funding afterschool enrichment activities for elementary and middle school aged children. This programing helps children develop leadership skills, self-reliance, and is a fun way to spend their afternoons! Below, you can see pictures of the SWAG Girl Scout Troop, as well
as children showing off their Capoeira (Brazilian martial arts) skills!
The foundation is also involved in providing funding for field trips from the SWAG Family Resource Center. Below is a picture from the summer program trip to Homosassa Springs, where the children learned about the natural beauty of our state’s springs, and got to meet the manatee, “Ariel”, that they adopted as part of their summer programing.
At the SW Health Clinic, the foundation has collaborated with SWAG and the Alachua County Health Department, as well as local artists, to create a warm and comfortable environment in the pediatric exam rooms by adding welcoming touches such as butterfly murals, toys for children in the waiting room, and a “treasure box” of take home toys for children to select at the end of their doctor visit.