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Singing for Tomorrow: The Use of Songwriting as an Expressive Medium for Hospitalized Children with Spinal Cord Injury

A grant by the Christopher Reeve Foundation ($24,900) supported an innovative songwriting program for inpatients with spinal cord injury at the Shriner’s Hospital for Children (Philadelphia).  Individual songwriting sessions helped these children express their feelings and facilitate their coping with spinal cord injury.  With the help of a music therapist, each child created and recorded original songs about their experience of spinal cord injury and their hopes for the future.  Songwriting software was used to enable the child to select and input the music and the lyrics, allowing the child to be fully involved in every aspect of the songwriting process.  Semi-structured interviews were conducted with the children to evaluate the impact of this program on their coping with spinal cord injury. This program was offered through Arts at Your Side, the community service initiative of the Arts and Quality of Life Research Center.  The purpose of Arts at Your Side is to provide specially designed arts experiences and arts engagement directly to residents of the Philadelphia region so that their lives may be positively influenced and their well-being improved. By utilizing the power of the arts to give voice to their human conditions, to accompany them through their struggles, to provide a creative outlet for their feelings, to provide stability in times of turmoil, to help them maintain their identities through crisis, and to soothe, heal, comfort and instill hope, Arts at Your Side provides an innovative service to those most greatly in need