Elizabeth Ravasini, 14, of Lee's Summit, Missouri, an eighth-grader at Bernard Campbell Middle School, recruits family members, friends, fellow 4-Hers and other students to give monthly musical performances at local nursing homes. As a young girl, Elizabeth frequently visited her grandmother and great-grandmothers in their nursing homes with her family. “I still remember how excited all the residents would get when my siblings and I would visit,” she said. That memory came back to Elizabeth when she was researching a topic for school about what was important to her and could result in a better world. Because music is a big part of her life, Elizabeth decided to research the impact of music on the elderly, and learned that “musical therapy can aid with stress reduction, relaxation and socialization,” she said.
Elizabeth began visiting local nursing homes once a month to sing, dance, play instruments, read poetry and provide other forms of entertainment for residents. She creates fliers to invite interested students, encourages them to sign up online and works out logistics with nursing home staff. Then she develops an agenda for each event, prepares song sheets, and ensures that microphones and a piano are available. “I have been amazed by the overwhelming excitement and support I have received,” she said. During intermission at the events, Elizabeth and her fellow performers visit with audience members and hand out small gifts and snacks. “The senior citizens’ faces are filled with joy when we perform,” she said, “and my peers feel more connected to older generations.”