Some of the most seriously ill children in the West Midlands will continue to benefit from Singing Medicine, thanks to a generous grant of £45,000 from Warwickshire Freemasons.
Ex Cathedra’s award-winning Singing Medicine vocal tutors from Birmingham’s world-class choir engage babies, children and teenagers in singing games in isolation units, intensive care, oncology and other wards at Birmingham Children’s Hospital.
The Singing Medicine team bring the special benefits of singing-play to these children, enabling all to participate, whatever their capabilities, illness, needs, language, background, or situation. The games enable children to follow their imaginations and make choices as they go on picnics, splash in puddles and meet dinosaurs and superheroes.
Every Friday, Ex Cathedra’s Singing Medicine vocal tutors arrive in their purple T-shirts and children know they are going to have fun. The Singing Medicine team are not there to take blood or give medication, they are there to sing, play, laugh, and enable children to choose what songs they would like to sing or instruments they would like to play. Importantly children can forget about their illness for a short time.
Vocal tutors tailor activities for each child depending on their age, preferences and health difficulties. For example, those children with limited mobility may blink to communicate their decisions in a song, while some children will be soothed and relaxed from hearing the team sing.
Research into the benefits of singing show it to be a really special activity. It is the only activity where all the brain is stimulated, oxytocin – the feel good human bonding hormone – is released and stress is reduced. Parents often tell the Singing Medicine team that it is the first time they have seen their child smile all week. Having the opportunity to engage in an activity that has nothing to do with illness or treatment is clearly very important for the whole family.
Singing Medicine reaches around 60 children each week but with 90,000 children treated at Birmingham Children’s Hospital every year, there is huge demand for the project, particularly in the Paediatric Intensive Care Unit. Ex Cathedra’s ambition is to continue to increase the reach of the project at the hospital and to offer it in other hospitals across the West Midlands.
The grant from Warwickshire Freemasons comes through the Masonic Charitable Foundation, which is funded by Freemasons, their families and friends, from across England and Wales.
Ex Cathedra’s director of education Rebecca Ledgard said:
“Singing Medicine is funded entirely by grants and donations, so we are incredibly grateful for the grant from the Warwickshire Freemasons, which is so important for the project to continue.”
David Macey, Provincial Grand Master of Warwickshire Freemasons said:
“We’re very pleased to be able to help Ex Cathedra’s Singing Medicine project. Thanks to them, some of Birmingham’s most seriously ill children will be able to take part in an activity that not only helps them and their families to cope with a difficult hospital environment, but is also great fun”.