4-H leadership project benefits Batson hospital
MSU Extension Service
RAYMOND, Miss. -- Patients at Batson Children’s Hospital in Jackson now have the gift of music to help them during the healing process.
Elizabeth Hale, a participant in the Leadership Lauderdale Youth 4-H Club, delivered new acoustic guitars, xylophones, bongos, ukuleles, triangles, tambourines and an electric keyboard to the hospital on April 11. The donation of more than 20 instruments was part of the teen’s Leadership Lauderdale Youth community service project, which she named “The Miracle of Music.”
The leadership program, derived from the adult Leadership Lauderdale program, is managed by the Mississippi State University Extension Service through its 4-H Youth Development program.
“Every year I am blown away by the community service projects these young people do,” said Patty Swearingen, the Extension agent in Lauderdale County who has managed the Leadership Lauderdale Youth 4-H Club for eight years. “They really think outside the box and do a lot of good in the community, state and world.”
Hale’s one-year project began in 2017 when she met with Batson representatives to plan a strategy. Hale designed and sold T-shirts to raise funds to buy instruments. She raised $3,000 and worked with Mississippi Music in Meridian, which sold her new instruments at a discount. She donated the remaining $1,610 to Batson to help renovate the space it plans to use for a music therapy program.
The inspiration for the project was Blue Star Connection, an organization started by John Catt that gives musical instruments to children facing cancer and other life challenges. Catt was a family friend whom Hale met on vacation a few years ago. Later that year, a tragedy struck a beloved teacher’s family and set Hale’s mission in motion.
“John told me about his love for blues music and how he’d started Blue Star Connection,” said Hale, now a senior at Lamar School. “I was very intrigued by the whole thing. Then, when I was going through Leadership Lauderdale, I thought the same idea would be a great thing to do for Batson Children’s Hospital in Mississippi. I dedicated the project in memory of Allie Carruth, who was my art teacher’s daughter. My teacher has inspired me so much, and I thought this would be a great way to thank her for helping me with my art.”
Allie Carruth, the daughter of Bill and Leslie Carruth, was a patient at Batson Children’s Hospital after an accident that ultimately took her life. The music therapy room features a plaque in her memory.
Tiffany Key, a certified child life specialist at Batson, said she and other child life specialists will use the instruments to help relieve stress and nurture development in patients.
“We hope to create a musician’s corner at Batson, where local artists can offer structured programs ranging from sing-alongs to music lessons,” she said. “The Miracle of Music will help patients express themselves through song. Research has shown that music not only improves a patient’s outlook, but also their heart rate, blood pressure and respiratory rate. This program will give patients an outlet to express their talents and may even spark a lifelong love of music.”
Hale said she is happy to contribute to the well-being of Batson patients and hopes the instruments get many years of use.
“When I approached the hospital about the program, they were thrilled with the idea,” Hale said. “They try to provide their patients with a variety of arts experiences, including dance, painting and drawing, but the one thing they were missing was music.”
Each fall, 30 students participate in the 18-year-old Leadership Lauderdale Youth 4-H Club through an application process. Participants pay a $35 fee, and the remainder of expenses are funded through private donations from local businesses and individuals.
Past community projects include volunteering at the East Mississippi Animal Rescue, collecting sports equipment and tennis shoes for donation to the Boys and Girls Club of Meridian, collecting personal hygiene items for a homeless shelter, collecting books for schools in Africa, and collecting food for the Backpack Ministry, which provides food to students who would otherwise not eat outside of school.
For more information about the club, contact Swearingen at 601-482-9764.
Released: April 25, 2018
Contacts: Ms. Patty Swearingen
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