By Gwenda Yun Zhi Gu, Grade 10 FIB and Zhi Xuan Cui, Grade 10 IGCSE, East Campus
'Music Buddies' is a service aims to use music to interact with children who have cerebral palsy. During the Season 1 and 2 of the 2018/2019 school year, I have learned more about how to work with the children through music. Before I joined the service, I didn’t really know what cerebral palsy (CP) was. I thought it was a type of disability that causes symptoms such as low intelligence. However, the first time that we went to the centre to connect with the children, I was quite shocked, I even felt fear.
Our service group is divided into two groups and each group is responsible to work with children in one of two age groups. My group is in charge of children aged between 6 to 10. The first time I met the children, they were all sitting in wheel chairs. They lowered their heads, and when I said hi to them, they didn’t respond. I didn’t know how to react to them and I just stood there for 10 minutes. A boy was crying and shouting all the time for no reason. One girl’s neck muscles are not strong enough, causing her head to turn in an unusual direction. We found it hard to communicate, which made it even harder to use music to interact.
Therefore, after the fist week away, we decided to make some changes to our original plan. Everyone wrote a sticker to express their opinion and suggestions to the change of the plan. At the end of the decision making process, we decided to use the combination of visual and hearing together to boost the interaction between children and us.
Our group focused on a class with children ages 6-7, who are the younger kids in the school, and this increased the difficulties for us to help them. However, during this process, we met a lot of challenges: The kids weren't participating actively in our activities and didn't give respond to us, so that we were sometimes very confused about whether they liked the activities and were involving or not. Also, their young ages limited the activities we can do with them. The activities shouldn't be too exciting or physically interactive, because the children would be scared or feel uncomfortable when we touched them. Therefore, the activities we organised were mainly playing songs in different speed and with some interesting movements, attracting them visually. Nevertheless, sometimes we did get response: Once there was a girl who got really excited by the music we played. She was clapping and laughing cheerfully with the music, which made us realised that the children with Cerebral Palsy were aware of the things and changes around them, but it just took them quite a long time. We found that this service was very meaningful. As we were helping the children, we also discovered a sense of self value, and found the little things we could contribute to the society and the people who need our help. It was an awesome experience. We are looking forward for you to join us next year!