Last year I was approached by Harriet Gore - 'Kindermusik with Harriet' - who asked if it would be ok to set up a music scholarship in Ellie's name. Although she had never met Ellie, Harriet knew of her love of musicals and music and felt it was something that she would like to do.
We were very touched by this and of course said yes. What a lovely way to remember Ellie and keep her love of music alive.
Kindermusik with Harriet. Scholarship in memory of Ellie. In Harriet's words.
*All names have been changed except for Harriet's and Ellie's.
''Reading about Ellie through your blog and listening to her sing Butterfly Wings inspired me to create a scholarship program in her memory. I'm a Kindermusik educator, (mother of three) and own my own small pre-school music program. At Kindermusik we believe every child is musical. I personally believe that very child should have access to the gift of music and Ellie's scholarship allows this to happen.
Music has been always been there for me, whether it's been through a song or a musical score that somehow expresses how you feel, when words fail.
My music program has five families who receive the Ellie Scholarship. They receive class tuition and class material without charge.
An example of one family who receives scholarship is Laura*. Laura's mum has a rare form of Parkinson and requires full time care. The Kindermusik classes are the highlight of the families week as Laura gets to spend 'one to one' time with mum (dad waits outside the class in case mum needs assistance). Laura is 3 years old and during the classes helps her mum hold the instruments. If mum is unable to stand for the movement activities Laura holds her hands and does a very impressive chair dance with her. Laura is blossoming into a caring, confident and musical young lady. Mum's health and mobility are steadily getting worse, however each class creates a special memory for her and Laura.
*Joe attends the classes with his 70 year old grandma. Joe and his older sister were put in their grandma's custody due to abuse and neglect by their mother. When Joe first attended the classes he had no speech, poor motor skills and was very withdrawn. He's now my bundle of energy and loves listening and singing to the class cds. Joe's grandma is a widow and works part-time to support her grandchildren. Every week she thanks me for the classes and tells me what a difference they've made to Joe.
To apply for an Ellie scholarship families need to explain their situation and why they need assistance. All scholarships are granted confidentially.
Ellie was an inspirational charity worker and always wanted to give back. Her energy, even though her own body was failing her, was remarkable.
My Kindermusik program in memory of Ellie provides free music workshops during school holiday, we go to Respite Centres, Additional Needs groups and Womens Refuge Centres. My children usually attend these sessions with me (when they can), I feel it's important for them to see how blessed they are. We've met children who are terminally ill or with severe disabilities. My proudest moment was when my son Spencer was happily chatting to a boy at one of the centres. The boys face was deformed due to his condition, however my son could see HIM not his disability.
You don't need to be a saint to help other people, believe me I am not. However, sometimes you're lucky enough to be inspired by someone. For me it was a brave 14 year old girl, who faced her illness with courage and gave so much love in her short life. Someone like this can never be forgotten and my small music business is making a small effort to make sure this doesn't happen.''
Harriet has also sent me an email from a parent whose son benefits from the sholarship:
I know you are very busy before and after the groups so it's difficult to talk, so thought I'd send you an email, hope it's not too impersonal but I just wanted to let you know just how much Elliot loves the kindermusik group. Seeing his reactions and responses to the class gives me such pleasure. It's the first group of it's kind we have attended and it's given me a new sense of hope that Elliot can find pleasure and enjoyment in something. It really seems to switch a light on with him that I haven't seen in him before.
I do take him to the sensory rooms whenever I can as he very much responds to light and movement. And we do attend a vision group every two weeks for children with visual impairment.
Last Wednesday when I brought him to Kindermusik, I couldn't believe his reaction to the session. I've never seen him smile so much at one time. Smiles from Elliot are very rare but on that day he smiled all day and was even giggling at night.....which never happens.
I have raved about your group so much to the ladies who run the vision group that they asked me to ask you whether they could attend some time, as they are always keen to learn from others to help the children they work with. So I hope this will be OK?
I did want to ask also about whether you could advise of any other groups of its type which you feel may benefit Elliot.
Though also I should give you some details about Elliot, which may help during the classes.
Elliot has cystic encephalitis, caused by a lack of oxygen to his brain whilst he suffered kidney failure at 5 weeks old.
Consequently this has left him with very limited mobility, he cannot hold his head up or roll or sit. He has often fisted hands but with stimulus they do open but he is unable to grasp things. He has we gather very limited vision, we think he can see light and dark. However his hearing is very good and we play to this strength. Unfortunately this does mean he can be hypersensitive to noises and his baby reflex of startling seems still present.
Thanks again and we look forward to seeing you next week.
*All names have been changed
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