Kids Rock Cancer came to life in November 2009 at SSM Cardinal Glennon Children’s Medical Center when a 12-year-old boy named Tyler recorded his first song, “Faith Through My Weakness.” Tyler’s message of strength has since been echoed by more than 100 courageous children, using music as a vehicle to express their thoughts and feelings.
Kids Rock Cancer was inspired by Purple Songs Can Fly, a program created and overseen by singer-songwriter Anita Kruse at Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston, Tex.
With the only fully-accredited Music Therapy program in the St. Louis area, Maryville University was in a unique position to bring the healing power of music therapy to children at area cancer treatment centers who could benefit by writing songs with a certified music therapist. The Music Therapy program, part of Maryville’s School of Health Professions, oversees Kids Rock Cancer. It is available free of charge to children with cancer and other blood disorders, as well as their family members.
How do Kids “Rock” Cancer?
For a child, illness can unleash a range of emotions they are not always able to express, or which they may simply choose not to. Kids Rock Cancer provides a creative outlet for kids to convey whatever is on their mind, and give voice to their feelings.
In one or two sessions, typically lasting an hour or two (at the bedside or in a hospital playroom), a board-certified music therapist helps the child express a set of thoughts and ideas that can be written down and turned into lyrics for a song. The child and therapist work together to compose a tune for the lyrics. The child then sings into a microphone and “stars” in the song they have written, with background instrumentation provided by guitar, keyboard and computer software. When they have finished, the child receives a CD recording as a legacy piece that becomes uniquely his or her own.
Where do Kids Rock Cancer?
Kids Rock Cancer has helped children find their inner musician at the following locations: SSM Cardinal Glennon Children’s Medical Center; St. Louis Children’s Hospital; Cardinals Kids Cancer Center at St. John’s Mercy Children’s Hospital; Cancer Support Community of Greater St. Louis (formerly The Wellness Community); Camp Rainbow; National Children’s Cancer Society Survivorship Conference; and Ronald McDonald House.