Music Therapy and Friendship Circle for Senior Citizen and Veterans

A Peacemaking Project by laurent c.

What is the injustice we are solving?

According to Dr. Robin Bonifas at Arizona State University, 10% to 20% of elders in senior communities experience bullying. Bullying in senior citizen communities occurs in every independent living community studied in her 2014 report, “Make Them Feel at Home,” sponsored by the American Seniors Housing Association. In that study, bullying fell into the category with the largest relationship to whether or not the community feels homelike. Study participants described problems such as “difficulties making friends, being lonely, not fitting in, not having common interests, bullying by cliques, and missing their friends.” According to the American Psychological Association, “Bullying is a form of aggressive behavior in which someone intentionally and repeatedly causes another person injury or discomfort. Bullying can take the form of physical contact, words or more subtle actions. The bullied individual typically has trouble defending him or herself and does nothing to ‘cause' the bullying.” Bullying that does not involve physical contact is sometimes referred to as “relational aggression.” Senior bullying is receiving increased attention in the mainstream media, with articles such as Paula Span's New Old Age column, 'Mean Girls in Assisted Living' and Jennifer Wiener's Mean Girls in the Retirement Home. (“Mean girls” tend to engage in gossip, excluding others and establishing cliques, while male bullies are more likely to yell and threaten.) In summary, bullying is a serious problem for our senior citizens, who should be treated with dignity and respect.

Our Compassionate Solution:

To solve this injustice of Bullying
we will address Lack of Empathy
by Programs that focus on improving the quality of life of veterans and senior citizens living in shared communities, particularly those who are lonely or alone, those with limited motor skills, motor impairment and disorders and other special needs

Our Project Plan:

Goals

  • Reduce Bullying in Senior Citizen Communities
  • Increase Empathy in Senior Citizen Communities by Forming Friendship Circles
  • Encourage Anti-Violence Among Senior Citizen Communities with Music and Rhythm

We will increase my / our compassion by...

We are an award-winning music healing non-profit, founded by youths, that focuses our volunteer and outreach efforts on improving quality of life and spread the message of anti-bullying through friendship circles and group music and rhythm at senior care facilities throughout the San Fernando Valley region of Los Angeles County. Our work has been featured on national broadcast news, including a recent feature on our founder, Laurent Chang, on ABC Channel 7 News: http://abc7.com/society/cool-kid-laurent-chang-uses-music-to-help-those-with-special-needs/1533003/

How will you show courage?

We will organize programs that focus on improving the quality of life of veterans and senior citizens living in shared communities, particularly those who are lonely or alone, those with limited motor skills, motor impairment and disorders and other special needs.

How will you collaborate with others?

Our group of youth volunteers will hold a series of music and rhythm friendship circles to benefit the neighborhood community. The youths are a group of dedicated marching band performance students currently attend William Howard Taft High School, a diverse, Title I-funding eligible public school in the Los Angeles Unified School District. The programs will be lead by music and rhythm leaders who are experienced with marching band or ensemble drumming. Participants are youths and senior citizens and will number from 30-35 each session.

How will you know you are moving in the right direction? (What are specific ways you can measure your impact?)

Through a series of music therapy activities, we would engage at least 45 youths and community members in the wider Los Angeles community, in neighborhoods ranging from the San Fernando Valley, to West L.A., to El Segundo. The youths involved will be drum circle leaders and participants. The more participants who are engaged by the activities on a qualitative level the more success will be shown. It is more about the qualitative service and learning process, not necessarily a quantitative one. If we will have impacted even 10 youths and senior citizens and improved their mental or motor health, then we will have achieved our goal. Through effective outreach including word of mouth and social media coverage, our Music Heals SoCal organization and its Drum Circle Therapy Programs already have gathered the support of more than 35 participants at 4 separate schools in the San Fernando Valley area. Youth leaders would canvas and make personal outreach to additional local organizations, hospitals, government representatives to galvanize support for the mission. Music Heals SoCal has captured the attention of hundreds of follower on its social media accounts, including www.twitter.com/hirakata on Twitter; on Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/hirakata/albums/72157678775914501 and on national news: http://abc7.com/society/cool-kid-laurent-chang-uses-music-to-help-those-with-special-needs/1533003/

Key Steps

  • Organize a series of anti-bullying, friendship-forming circles and music and rhythm therapy programs at senior citizen homes in the Los Angeles County area
  • Seek, encourage, and train youth volunteers from the community at large
  • Spread the word about our efforts, and about Peace First, widely in media and news programs

Reflection:

How did the project deepen your team's understanding of the injustice?

By encouraging programs that focus on improving the quality of life of veterans and senior citizens living in shared communities, particularly those who are lonely or alone, those with limited motor skills, motor impairment and disorders and other special needs, we can help to reduce or eradicate loneliness and bullying in these shared communities.

How did your community change as a result of your project?

The participants were clearly engaged in the activities and in interacting with others around them and it created a sense of community through shared music activities.

How many people were impacted by your project?

87

Explain how you came up with the number of people impacted by the project?

We included the organizers, the youth leaders, participants, adult caregivers, staff and administrators and the elderly and senior disabled residents. Even the relatives of the residents participated in the music activities!

How did your team learn more about the people affected by the injustice?

There are some resources/organizations focused on senior bullying, ageism, and senior activist/advocacy organizations: http://www.socialworktoday.com/archive/exc_051513.shtml http://www.asaging.org/blog/pernicious-problem-ageism https://www.forbes.com/sites/lizryan/2014/01/31/the-ugly-truth-about-age-discrimination/#5ecd07d744e7 http://www.everythingzoomer.com/style/home-garden/2006/01/01/organizations-launch-anti-ageism-campaign-2/ http://www.justiceinaging.org/take-action/senior-poverty/ http://sdjewishjournal.com/sdjj/tag/senior-activists/ https://popularresistance.org/seniors-becoming-activists-as-living-standards-fall/ http://resources.illuminage.com/CategorySearch.aspx?c=153&p=17 According to Dr. Robin Bonifas at Arizona State University, 10% to 20% of elders in senior communities experience bullying. Bullying in senior citizen communities occurs in every independent living community studied in her 2014 report, “Make Them Feel at Home,” sponsored by the American Seniors Housing Association. In that study, bullying fell into the category with the largest relationship to whether or not the community feels homelike. Study participants described problems such as “difficulties making friends, being lonely, not fitting in, not having common interests, bullying by cliques, and missing their friends.” According to the American Psychological Association, “Bullying is a form of aggressive behavior in which someone intentionally and repeatedly causes another person injury or discomfort. Bullying can take the form of physical contact, words or more subtle actions. The bullied individual typically has trouble defending him or herself and does nothing to ‘cause' the bullying.” Bullying that does not involve physical contact is sometimes referred to as “relational aggression.” Senior bullying is receiving increased attention in the mainstream media, with articles such as Paula Span's New Old Age column, 'Mean Girls in Assisted Living' and Jennifer Wiener's Mean Girls in the Retirement Home. (“Mean girls” tend to engage in gossip, excluding others and establishing cliques, while male bullies are more likely to yell and threaten.) In summary, bullying is a serious problem for our senior citizens, who should be treated with dignity and respect.

What did your team learn?

That by encouraging programs that focus on improving the quality of life of veterans and senior citizens living in shared communities, particularly those who are lonely or alone, those with limited motor skills, motor impairment and disorders and other special needs, we can help to reduce or eradicate loneliness and bullying in these shared communities.

What challenges did your team overcome?

We needed to get everyone (3/4 of all participants) who needed to use a wheelchair to come to the third floor cafeteria in order to participate in the drum circle. We had lots of help from youth leaders, the caregivers and the staff and administration.

How have you involved others in designing, carrying out, or expanding this project?

We needed to get everyone who needed to use a wheelchair to come to the third floor cafeteria in order to participate in the drum circle. We had lots of help from youth leaders, the caregivers and the staff and administration.

What advice would you give to someone starting a peacemaking project?

Be persistent and always share what you are doing with your community so help can come in many forms.

Our Updates:

Community Music Therapy and Friendship Circle Senior Citizen and Veterans

laurent c. 15 May 2018 18:46 We have engaged at least 15 youths and 76 elderly and disabled community members in the wider Los Angeles community in a program focused on music therapy activities. The youths involved were active drum circle leaders and participants.  The youth leaders engaged in community canvasing and made personal outreach to local organizations, hospitals, government representatives to galvanize support for the program. The program was a success. 

Community Music Therapy and Friendship Circle Senior Citizen and Veterans

laurent c. 15 May 2018 18:45 We have engaged at least 15 youths and 76 elderly and disabled community members in the wider Los Angeles community in a program focused on music therapy activities. The youths involved were active drum circle leaders and participants.  The youth leaders engaged in community canvasing and made personal outreach to local organizations, hospitals, government representatives to galvanize support for the program. The program was a success. 

Comments:

Dalton B.
6 June 2018 11:49

Hi Music Therapy!

Congratulations on finishing your peacemaking project! I’m on the Peace First team and wanted to say thank you for your amazing work and for taking time to share about your work.

Below you will find some feedback based on your Reflection, which we hope will help you to celebrate your incredible accomplishment and reflect on how to grow and develop your project in the future:

Your project is so interesting - the injustice you've identified is so easily and often overlooked, so it's awesome to see you all addressing it! Additionally, your approach by using music as a way to build community is really powerful.

I think what I'd like to hear more about is the transformation you, as the leaders, and the people participating went through. And how did your understanding of the injustice change?

We hope you will stay in touch and keep us up to date as you continue your work to create change!

-Dalton  

Adrian B. Peace First Staff
1 March 2018 13:09

Hi Laurent--I love how you're taking all these ideas and resources to heart. Thanks so much for your important work. This project is innovative and reaching communities who really need it. Your insight looks strong as it is, and Kelsey's comments about how it could be even better are useful too. So excited to support and invest in this work!  

RaulPF C. Peace First Staff
1 March 2018 11:19

Thanks a lot for taking the feedback into consideration and for updating your insight, Laurent!
 

Kelsey T.
27 February 2018 16:24

Your insight is now strong and clear -- the only other feedback I would potentially have is that you could make the first two sections a bit more specific to help people understand what you mean so that the insight can stand on its on -- for instance, adding in that you specifically looking at "bullying within senior citizen communities" ... and expanding slightly more on what you mean by 'lack of empathy.' Like I said your insight is strong as is, but it is always helpful to be as clear as possible when explaining your work to people who are new to the idea! I love that your insight has recognized the need to build community as a way to combat the bullying problem!  

Kelsey T.
27 February 2018 16:19

Hi Laurent! I noticed that you updated your compassionate insight, taking into account Raul's feedback (I am also part of the Peace First team). I think what you have added is great and will help people to understand the thinking behind your project. Thanks for taking the time to make those changes.  

laurent c.
23 February 2018 20:14

We have taken your suggestion and edited further the section: "By" organizing programs that focus on improving the quality of life of veterans and senior citizens living in shared communities, particularly those who are lonely or alone, those with limited motor skills, motor impairment and disorders and other special needs."  

laurent c.
23 February 2018 19:35

Thank you RaulPF! We will do our best to work with the advice you provided and do more in-depth details research and to add details onto this project page. Specifically we have added to the insight you mentioned, as follows: "By" organizing programs that focus on improving the quality of life of veterans and senior citizens living in shared communities, particularly those who are lonely or alone, those with limited motor skills, motor impairment and disorders and other special needs.'  

laurent c.
23 February 2018 19:34

Thank you Adrian! We will do our best to work with the advice you provided and do more in-depth details research and to add details onto this project page.  

RaulPF C. Peace First Staff
22 February 2018 12:02

Congratulations, Laurent! Your project has been selected to receive a Peace First Challenge mini-grant. We will be in touch soon with details about this payment.
The mini-grant process is also a space for you to get feedback on your peacemaking project. We hope you will use this feedback to further strengthen your project. Please see the feedback on your mini-grant below.

Strengths: It is great to see how you are using existing research to understand the impact that you can make. I was really surprised about the data related to the number of elders that can be bullied. I really commend you for your courage to start this project with a population that tends to be forgotten when people think about where they want to make an impact. It is also great that you have set some clear goals that will make it easier for you to know if you are heading in the right direction.

Things to Consider: I would encourage you to work a little bit more on your compassionate insight by adding information to the "by" section. You can do that directly at https://www.peacefirst.org/projects/music-therapy-and-friendship-circle-senior-citizen-and-veterans/dashboard/compassionate-insight - that will help everyone understand how you connect the injustice you identified with your solution.

Congratulations and best of luck with your project!  

Adrian B. Peace First Staff
14 February 2018 12:50

Hi Laurent!

Thanks so much for posting this project! The video about your work, and the initiative you and the other leaders you're working with, is powerful. I'm excited to see how this grows even more, and to learn how we can support you!

As part of the process of completing peacemaking projects, Peace First staff give formal feedback on important steps of your project. One of those steps is the compassionate insight.

I love the insight that you have here--addressing bullying in senior communities is very important. I just have a tiny bit of feedback to help tweak the insight so it's ready for the grant process.

The "by" section of the insight is asking how you will address this injustice--so it should be a summary of the awesome information you have about the programs you are doing/planning for this work.

I'm also curious about the work you're already doing--there are many injustices you're addressing with this work. Are you interested in focusing specifically on bullying in senior centers here, or do you want to work on some of these other injustices? Or both? Let me know if you want to think through how to frame it.

We encourage everyone who is at this stage of their project to work towards deepening their understanding of the injustice they're focusing on. I'm hearing about multiple injustices/affected communities in your work: seniors experiencing ageism and adultism, autistic people experiencing ableism, and both groups experiencing bullying/a lack of understanding and spaces for expression as a result of those oppressions.

It can be helpful to talk to people who experience this injustice (seniors and autistic people), people who cause this injustice (people who are causing bullying/perpetuating ableism and ageism), and people who are already working to solve this injustice (organizations or individuals. While your insight is almost ready to go, I would strongly encourage you to do interviews with each of those groups--it will enrich your project in lots of ways! Here are some resources on how to do that: https://www.peacefirst.org/understand-through-compassion

And here are some great organizations that are led by autistic people:

Autistic Self-Advocacy Network: http://autisticadvocacy.org/2011/03/faq-on-proposed-icd-9-cm-wandering-code/
The Thinking Person's Guide to Autism: http://www.thinkingautismguide.com/2011/04/interview-with-carol-greenburg-autism.html http://www.thinkingautismguide.com/2013/05/on-sad-end-to-search-for-mikaela-lynch.html
Autism Women's Network: https://autismwomensnetwork.org/
AASPIRE: Academic Autism Spectrum Partnership in Research and Education https://aaspire.org/
And a great list of autistic activists: http://nosmag.org/50-autistic-people-you-should-know/

And resources/organizations focused on senior bullying, ageism, and senior activist/advocacy organizations:

http://www.socialworktoday.com/archive/exc_051513.shtml
http://www.asaging.org/blog/pernicious-problem-ageism
https://www.forbes.com/sites/lizryan/2014/01/31/the-ugly-truth-about-age-discrimination/#5ecd07d744e7
http://www.everythingzoomer.com/style/home-garden/2006/01/01/organizations-launch-anti-ageism-campaign-2/
http://www.justiceinaging.org/take-action/senior-poverty/
http://sdjewishjournal.com/sdjj/tag/senior-activists/
https://popularresistance.org/seniors-becoming-activists-as-living-standards-fall/
http://resources.illuminage.com/CategorySearch.aspx?c=153&p=17

I can see that you already have lots of research and knowledge--I'm excited to learn more from your experience and expertise, and hear about your ideas. :) Thanks again, and I'm excited to see how this project continues to grow!!

Best,
Adrian