By Agrippina Fadel
Bringing together students and nursing home residents, the new Coral Park Elementary School program uses music to bridge generational differences and connect hearts.
After a successful December visit by the Coral Park chorus students to Aston Gardens Senior Living Community in Parkland for a holiday sing-along, the young artists plan to return on Valentine’s Day for another intergenerational music therapy event.
Initiated by Coral Park Elementary’s music specialist and Board-Certified Music Therapist, Dr. Linda Lathroum, the program aims to help both kids and older adults.
Serving as cognitive, physical, and socio-emotional stimulation for the residents while bringing them holiday cheer, music therapy fosters a sense of the importance of community service in elementary students and instills an appreciation of older adults, according to Lathroum.
Approximately 25 3rd and 5th-graders from Coral Park, located at 8401 Westview Drive, will return to Aston Gardens on February 14 to sing “Oh What a Beautiful Morning,” “L O V E,” “Daisy, Daisy,” “La Bamba,” “Twist and Shout,” and other oldies and love songs.
“What makes us unique is that this is not a concert,” said Lathroum. “It is not the children performing for the residents. They sing with each other, for each other. They get to talk in the end. They do movement together.”
As a music therapist who works with various ages, from early childhood to hospice, she considers the needs of the residents and students when planning the interactions.
“I’m fairly certain our program is one-of-a-kind in the Coral Springs and Parkland area,” Lathroum added.
She said the program helps the kids learn communication and social skills. They practice empathy, compassion, and kindness. Before the event, the students discuss the skills of introducing themselves and getting to know a new person.
Alison Katz, the Activity Director at Aston Gardens, said the nursing home residents, whose average age is 92, enjoyed the visit and the music and are looking forward to another sing-along.
“We are so excited for the students from Coral Park to return to the community because intergenerational music programs are so good for the residents and the children. It gives the residents a sense of purpose, makes them happy, and they learn so much from the children,” said Katz.
Lathroum said that during the event, students and residents sing and move to the rhythm together, and after the musical therapy part is over, they chat and get to know each other one-on-one.
In December, the kids shared the holiday letters they wrote for the residents.
“Visiting a nursing home is a wonderful way for students to practice our “kindness totally rocks” theme,” she added.
- Agrippina Fadel grew up in Siberia and received her master’s in journalism from Tyumen State University. Agrippina is also a writer and editor at Draftsy.net. She has been a US resident for over ten years and speaks English and Russian.
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