Music…what does it invoke in you? What feelings & emotions awaken when listening, singing or playing a musical instrument? For me, music takes me inward to a place where my heart and soul reside. Music ignites joy, laughter, and a sense of playful freedom. Music also has been scientifically proven to assist in the healing of the mind & body through various musical modalities.
This blog post is on my recent journey to the opening of Sophie’s Place at Cardon Children’s Medical Center in Mesa, AZ. Sophie’s Places are dedicated music therapy facilities built within children’s hospitals assisting in caring for young people suffering from pain, chronic illness, and serious injury.
My very good friend, Barb and her husband, Steve Young are the founders, visionaries and heart of the Forever Young Foundation; a nonprofit organization focused on passing on hope, strength and education to children facing physical, emotional and financial challenges in Northern California, Arizona, Utah and Ghana, Africa. The Forever Young Foundation has multiple development projects, the newest initiative is Sophie’s Place. It was Barb’s vison, passion & knowledge in music therapy that let to the evolution of Sophie’s Place…
Below, Barbra Young explains how her journey with music therapy became the foundation for Sophie’s Place, these are her own words: Thank you Barb for sharing!
”In 1989, one of my best friends was hit by a car and went into a coma for 10 1/2 months. I had been researching ways to help her including modalities for traumatic brain injury (tbi). I came across music therapy. I begged the hospital to try but they thought it was just fluffy woo-woo. The thing with TBI, is the first year is critical for recovery. So I went into her room and did what I thought would help with the music she loved. Obviously I had no training so didn’t understand how different rhythms or sounds should be used. Since then the science has proven how dramatic music can be for recovery. Music reaches both sides of the brain simultaneously and fires the synapses. A music therapist can literally retrain the brain, creating new neuro-pathways where others have been damaged. Music also helps with pain control (no meds!) and can regulate a newborn’s heart in the nicu. There is so much more, I could go on and on.” – Barbra Young
“Fast forward 22 years later. It is the one year anniversary of the passing of our dear sweet friends daughter who was a singer songwriter at 17. Her name is Sophie. She volunteered at the hospital and always brought her guitar. I awoke in the middle of the night and shot straight up out of bed. Sophie+music therapy+current science=The time is now! And there in that moment Sophie’s Place music therapy rooms were born. Everything fell in to place so easily it was like Sophie was guiding it. Usually hospitals are difficult to work with because of all the protocol, rules, and regulations, but there was synchronicity at every turn and the puzzle pieces just fell into place. Our first, and the first ever in the country, had to be at Primary hospital where Sophie volunteered. After it opened, we started getting calls from all over the country asking for one. The science is there and doctors are writing more and more prescriptions for music therapy. We opened our second in Sacramento, California and our third in Mesa, AZ. We have four more in the works.” – Barbra Young
“In addition to all the fantastic therapy in the room, we had another blessing we didn’t see coming: Terminally ill kids were using the recording studio in Sophie’s Place to write and record their own songs to leave for their families. Powerful! The families have told us it is their greatest treasure. It is amazing to see the efficacy of music therapy working for the kids in hospitals and it is full circle having Sophie’s name on the room since she intuitively knew when she volunteered at the hospital to always bring her guitar.” – Barbra Young
Sophie’s Place at Cardon Children’s Medical Center includes a state-of-the-art space for music therapists to offer group and private music-therapy sessions. There is a recording studio, listening area and practice areas. The music therapy at Sophie’s Place serves to relieve stress, pain and anxiety in children going through treatment at the hospital.
“While most people know music has an extraordinary power to bring comfort and peace to the soul, recent clinical studies have proven that music therapy offers a non-invasive treatment providing evidence based beneficial effects on young hospital patients.”- Forever Young Foundation
During the opening ceremony, Sophie’s parents, Kent and Anne-Marie Barton shared some of Sophie’s beautiful memories and her passion for music. “Shine On” was written for Anne-Marie for Mother’s Day by Sophie and Tezza (Sophie’s sister). Anne-Marie believes the lyrics are to inspire and encourage other souls to continue to “shine on”… and also a wish for the children to all “shine on”. Anne-Marie noted one of Sophie’s favorite sayings: “Feel the fear and do it anyway!”
Sophie’s sister Tezza and brother Luke performed a song written by Sophie, “Walk With Me” during the opening celebration. There wasn’t a dry eye in the room. You could feel the honor, love and healing energy… Sophie’s spirit was present on stage and “shining on” us all that afternoon. It was a true honor to witness such connection and love. The children who attended the opening were beaming with pure light & joy. I watched the children sing & play instruments all with a wondrous twinkle in their eyes.
Witnessing the depth of true giving, listening to the courageous children playing music and feeling the divine embrace of LOVE…I humbly bow to all those involved bringing music therapy & Sophie’s place to life. Sophie’s nickname was “angel breath”; it was evident that Sophie’s angelic essence was present and will continue to “shine on” through the heart and souls of children.
Forever Young Foundation: www.foreveryoung.org
Sophie’s Place: www.foreveryoung.org/charities/sophie/
With love and gratitude,