Two years after bringing the program to Vashon as a Rotary community service project, islander Amy Huggins gave a presentation about Music Mends Minds at the Rotary International convention earlier this summer.
It was the first time the program was presented on an international stage.
Music Mends Minds is a program that works to build bands composed of both seniors and youth, in an effort to maximize the benefits of inter-generational support and music therapy. The program was created by a Los Angeles, California, woman after her husband was diagnosed with dementia. Huggins, whose own husband died last year and had Alzheimer’s disease, saw a documentary about the program in 2015 and started it on Vashon. She is now dedicated to spreading the word about the program and its benefits for seniors worldwide, as well as the need for a cure for degenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and dementia.
“I talked about how this (Music Mends Minds) is a wonderful way to let people stay home who have these diseases, and it really helps to light people up and feel good,” Huggins said as she explained her convention speech. “It’s a global, worldwide epidemic, truly.”
To help measure the effects of the Music Mends Minds program, Vashon’s Rotary will receive tools from the RAND Corporation. They will be able to measure baseline cognitive abilities of those who are just starting the program and then monitor them as they participate.
“It will be something to add to all the stories we have,” Huggins said. “We need more than stories; this will be data.”
Music Mends Minds is one of four other groups — two are based on America’s East Coast, one is based in Australia and another in England — in Rotary International’s Alzheimers/Dementia Rotarian Action Group.
Music Mends Minds meets every Tuesday from 1:30 to 2:30 p.m. at VCC. All ages are welcome.
Piano players are needed. For more information or to help, contact Amy Huggins at email@example.com or 206-851-7159.