Taylen Gearhart, a senior Girl Scout from Elliston, recently completed a research project with seniors in the New River Valley in her pursuit of the Girl Scout Gold Award.
The Gold Award is the highest award within Girl Scouting with only 5.4 percent of eligible Girl Scouts successfully achieving it. The Gold Award project must involve over 80 hours of volunteer time, coordination with others and result in a lasting benefit to the larger community.
Gearhart chose to volunteer her time at Warm Hearth Village, a retirement community in Blacksburg. In choosing her project, she was inspired by her great-grandmother’s struggle with dementia.
After researching successful ways of relieving stress and sparking memories in persons with dementia, Gearhart found information about music and its influence on memory. She sought out help from the staff of the Kroontje Health Care Center at Blacksburg’s Warm Hearth Village for permission to implement a project with the memory impaired residents there.
Jonathan Tate, Activity Director at the Kroontje Center, acted as Taylen’s project advisor and assisted with the assignment. Together, and with the help of donated funds, they provided the residents with iPods loaded with era and genre specific music that can be played in times of stress, in preparation for taxing moments, like bathing or personal care, or just to relax.
The results have been impressive.
Kristi Blake, administrator of the Kroontje Center said, “The residents and staff alike have benefitted from the time put into this incredible project. They have been able to connect to a part of their past that only music can take them to.”
“The staff see the enjoyment on the faces of our residents, and it provides true joy to them as well. We are so grateful to Taylen for working with us on her Gold Award Project,” Blake added.
Music, according to Gearhart’s research, has a beneficial effect on stress reduction in the form of heart rate, lowered blood pressure, and outward signs of stress such as agitation.
“It was so much fun working with the staff and helping the residents in some small way,” Gearhart said.
Warm Hearth Village is the New River Valley’s only comprehensive non-profit retirement community offering a full continuum of living options on our campus and in the home.
— Submitted by Tambra Dixon
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