The Hamilton Music Collective, founded by Astrid Hepner, wants to start a program to provide music therapy for isolated youth who may be struggling mentally with COVID restrictions, The Hamilton Music Collective has provided the successful An Instrument for Every Child program that has exposed 6,000 disadvantaged children to music through learning how to play and instrument. and now are ready to expand their offering.
Recently, the Hamilton Bulldogs Foundation provided the needed funding to allow HMC to launch a Music for Wellness Program, designed specifically to address mental health issues in youth. Through song-writing and other forms of musical expression, guided by a music therapist experienced in working with at-risk youth, the program and workshops seek to address the issues that face so many young people today, such as isolation, anxiety, and depression.
“The Bulldogs’ Foundation is focused on enriching the lives of youth in our community. This is why we are proud to help bring HMC’s music program to at-risk youth in Hamilton,” said Bulldogs’ Foundation Executive Director Peggy Chapman. “Mental health is just as important as physical health. This is a perfect time, during this incredibly challenging pandemic, for this program.”
The Wellness Programs are being created by Aimee Berends, (MMT, BMus, MA in progress). A former principal oboist in the Guelph Symphony Orchestra, Aimee is a Registered Music Therapist and freelance musician. Her clinical focus is mental health and addictions. In addition to her work with HMC, she has conducted therapy programs in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside, has taught at Wilfred Laurier University and is a guest lecturer at McMaster University.
Building on their Wellness Program, HMC has also developed a partnership with Wellwood, to help support children who have a family member undergoing cancer treatment. This Program connects professional instructors with groups of 6-8 children in online workshops, where they’re safely able to explore and share their thoughts and feelings.
HMC is also working with students in McMaster University’s Bachelor of Life Sciences (Honours) Program to conduct community-focused research on the Wellness Program. This research will help HMC plan and scale-up future programs, while also assessing the Program’s impact on the participating children; helping to further fine-tune teaching methods and therapy.
A recent CBC article quotes Music Therapist Dany Bouchard, who works in Montreal General Hospital’s psychiatric and mental health services department; “Music, as we well know is very powerful because it is a tool that brings you into the moment.” He further advises that patients can “use music as mindfulness”.
To find out more about Hamilton Music Collective’s Music Wellness program and how you can support the growing need for mental health therapy in our community, please visit the HMC website.