“We are in good hands,” I thought to myself as I met with students from Dr. MacDonald’s Advanced Psychology class at the University of Victoria.
These students have been participating in our Voices in Motion Gordon Head Recreation Center Community Choir since January. They are getting to know those with dementia and their caregivers while working on a research assignment based upon data collected over the last couple of years.
I asked them to explain their research topic and share some of the preliminary findings. They were articulate and excited to share what they had found. They were keenly interested in this healthy intervention of group singing.
But what was more satisfying for me was their deep compassion for our choir members and their thankfulness to have been involved with this choir as students.
I wanted to know if being part of the choir had impacted them in ways that were surprising or if rubbing shoulders with people with dementia and their caregivers had touched their lives in positive ways moving forward.
The answer always was a resounding “Yes!”.
Although many of these students were not surprised by the positive impact and power of music, what did surprise them was the amazingly warm, loving and accepting community they experienced – a place where everyone belonged and were treated as equals.
When I asked each one what they would take away personally from their experience with ViM, I received some excellent insights.
Here are a few of their responses:
Nicole mentioned the power of kindness she had noticed among all the choir members and personally experienced as a singer with ViM.
Elle saw examples of the how important it is to find purpose regardless of your stage of life.
Jocelyn recognized the importance inclusion plays in the choir – all were accepted and welcome. She also mentioned that it was hard to know who had dementia.
Janelle reflected upon the fact that each person had more in common than not and that the questions we ask during rehearsals allowed us to enter into conversations that exemplified this.
Rhys was intrigued by how Erica was able to take us out of our comfort zone, noticing how much all of us – including those with dementia – accomplished when pushed just a little and it was good.
Alex noticed how comfortable people were in interacting with each other, reinforcing the fact that first impressions aren’t always accurate.
I listened to each of these students share not only their research topics, but also their impressions of Voices in Motion.
It’s important to be involved in ongoing research and Voices in Motion is committed to be involved in that research. These students have further explored some of the data from ViM. In my conversation with each of them, they provided me hope and an ongoing reason to keep on doing what we are doing.
I’m not going to try to describe each poster presentation that will be shared at the upcoming Making Waves Conference at the University of Victoria. But I will be there myself to support these students. If you are able, you too are invited. (If this event is not cancelled, I will send you further information as to date, time and location)
Thank you to all of our UVic students and to Dr. MacDonald for encouraging his class to sing with us for a term!
You made a difference by your presence.