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  • Helen Li

Connecting Students and Seniors Through Music

Music has long been recognized to have a positive effect on one’s physical and mental health. Many of us turned to music as a means of comfort during the pandemic, but others do not always have the same convenient access to music as we do. Seniors are especially vulnerable in this pandemic, which is why two Earl students combined their love for music with their passion for community service to create a program called Music For Seniors.

This student-led initiative aims to connect students and seniors during this challenging time. Students can submit musical performances, artworks, and birthday cards to participate in the organization’s monthly virtual concerts, which are then shared with the various hospitals, retirement homes, and long term care homes that Music For Seniors work with. These concerts can also be found on their YouTube channel, which makes it easy for anyone - not just seniors - to enjoy the musical and artistic contributions of talented local high school students.

Seniors are not the only ones who benefit from these concerts; students can earn volunteer hours for their submissions. Music For Seniors gives students many different ways to volunteer, so there is an opportunity for everyone to support their community. Musicians can send in a video of a musical performance, artists can opt to submit their artworks, or students can choose to create birthday cards for local seniors.

The benefit of a virtual volunteering platform is that the organization is not limited to Earl/OCDSB students. Both of the co-founders are pleased with the way the program has expanded to include students across different school boards in Ottawa, and even some students from other parts of Ontario. Co-founder Ally Guo says that “I’m always amazed and proud of the wonderful submissions we receive, and they really reflect the unique and varied personal backgrounds of our participating students.”

It’s a special time for the organization, as they have just hit their one year anniversary. When I asked one of the cofounders, Aleesha Katary, what her favourite part of the journey was, she said that “The best part [about the organization] for me was being able to connect with students during the pandemic. It was a really isolating time for not only seniors but [students] as well, and it’s nice to see them getting involved in the community even though everyone was experiencing some hardships.”

Both co-founders say that one of the most rewarding aspects of Music For Seniors was hearing the feedback from the community. “We’ll sometimes get emails or people who tell us that they appreciate our concerts, that it brightened the day for them, their parents, or their grandparents. It’s great that what we’re doing is genuinely having a positive impact,” said Ally.

It is a challenging time for all, but organizations such as Music for Seniors show how personal passions and community involvement can come together in perfect harmony.

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