Monthly Archives: April 2015

Why I participate in Walk

by Bill Barnes

Can’t. When I was asked to share my story as we prepare for Walk With Me 2015, the one word that kept coming back to me was can’t. My name is Bill Barnes and when I was born I was diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy. You see as I was growing up my Dad would often say to me that can’t wasn’t in the dictionary. His point to me was that he didn’t want to hear me say I ”couldn’t” do something. Since most of the times he said this I was in the midst of doing exercises and physical therapy, I was not too fond of that saying! Over many years I realized that he was hoping to set me up for a lifetime of success. I never really looked to see if can’t really was in the dictionary, but I have a sneaking suspicion it was!

So at some point I realized it’s not what you can’t do that’s important it’s what you can. Much of that was due to my parents, but the other part to that equation was Easter Seals. I began at Easter Seals as a very young child in the preschool program and also participated in the summer camp program. I also received much more physical therapy than I ever wanted. What I know now is what I can do in my life today has a lot to do with what Easter Seals did for me when I was younger. If they hadn’t pushed me who knows if I’d be a middle school teacher like I am today.

As I got older I began to understand what Easter Seals did for me and I wanted to give back to them as much as I could. Eventually, I became a camp counselor and a Camp Director for Easter Seals. I got to see firsthand how the therapists and teachers at Easter Seals are still striving to show children what they can do. I got to see how they work with each individual child to make sure they are the success that they can be. Just as importantly, I got to do the same for scores of children through the summer camp program. While the camp program no longer exists the magic of social media allows me to see the successes “my kids” have become. We all still call ourselves the Easter Seals family.

Just this past week, two things happened that reminded me how important Easter Seals has been in my life. I recently reconnected via social media with one of my first physical therapists. While wishing me a happy birthday she reminded me how much I “loved” coming to see her. None of the messages I received meant more because I know what she meant to my life. Then later in the week while at an alumni weekend event at my alma mater, Temple University, I was stopped in the middle of campus by a former camper of mine. I absolutely beamed as he told me of the great things he was doing.

I participate in Walk With Me each year because I have seen and been a part of the great work that Easter Seals does. The therapists, teachers, social workers and many others care so much about the children they work with. Their number one goal is to focus on what each child can do – and I know that someday they will look back with pride seeing the successes those children have become because of the work they do. Take it from me, there is no greater feeling!

Bill with Easter Seals parent and volunteer Jeannine Hesser

Bill with Easter Seals parent and volunteer Jeannine Hesser

My experience presenting to the Easter Seals Board of Directors

by Grace Clements, MT-BC

Helping everyone pick out their instruments

Helping everyone pick out their instruments

I recently had the pleasure of doing a program presentation for the board of trustees at Easter Seals. I began my presentation by bringing a bunch of percussion instruments from my office to the board meeting. Initially, I got a couple of inquisitive looks and some daring board members experimented with some different things. Whenever I am talking to a large group about music therapy I like to begin the presentation with a drum circle. It was around 7pm and I can imagine most people had been working up until this point. To begin the drum circle I usually pick a drum for myself that I am comfortable with, that has a full sound. I play a simple beat for a little while then invite the group to join when they feel like they have something to add. After the group seems to “get in the groove” I begin isolating different parts of the room i.e. “on the count of 4, just the people wearing green!” (this was on st. patricks day), the right side of the room, the left side etc.  Towards the end, i say, “on the count of 4, i want you to play as loud as you can!” then we play as loud as we can and i count down from 5,4,3,2,1 and we stop.

Being a therapist I can’t help assess the group before and after the musical experience.Before I noticed some were hesitant, but some seemed excited.

During the music I noticed lots of laughing and smiling, the music continued to become more cohesive with all the participants playing with each other, and the volume increased as we continued playing, as well as the cohesiveness of the playing.

After the musical experience I noticed a shift in my mood as well, I felt more relaxed and more confident about my presentation. I believe that music has the power to center us.

It was great to get to interact with the board members and share the work that we do at Easter Seals. Sometimes I think we are so busy thinking about how to better serve the students at Easter Seals, that we don’t always get a chance to take a step back and think of all the great work we do here.

At the end of the presentation the board members asked me a few questions such as:

“How do you measure the success of a group?”

I thought this was a great question. I guess an easy answer might be, “i deem a group successful if my goals for said group are met.” When i really think about this question, I realize that sometimes I work in the opposite way. Some days in order to meet the needs of the students I have to take the temperature of the room in order to decide which steps/interventions I will use that day. This reminded me of how Easter Seals has helped me become very flexible!

“How do you plan for a group?”

Because I see about 30 groups a week, I often try to pick interventions that are adaptable for most groups. Sometimes I build an idea around a theme or season, sometimes around something the kids are really interested such as the movie Frozen! I then break things down and think about all my different classes and how they might respond to the music. I can’t always predict what the kids will do, so sometimes I also edit the idea as I use in in sessions.

Thinking about these questions and this presentation really allowed me to reflect on my experience as a music therapist here, and I appreciate that!

Grace is a full-time music therapist at Easter Seals