The original intergenerational music program that formed the foundation for IMHope is called “Fountains of Uke”, which connects elementary students with long-term care residents for a month of music engagement. The Fountains of Uke program was designed by a group of 6 Bachelor of Health Sciences students in 2014, led by IMHope founder Chelsea Mackinnon. Fountains of Uke met such a profound need in the community, on a variety of levels, that in 2016 McMaster University created an undergraduate course to sustain the program. The course, of which Chelsea is the sessional instructor, is part of the Health Sciences curriculum and is designed to enhance students understanding of the value of intergenerational music making and the health-related benefits of music for the senior participants. The course culminates with a final assignment that is the delivery of Fountains of Uke to long-term care homes by the students in the class. Fountains of Uke is delivered during November and March – the last six weeks of the course when offered in both the fall and winter semesters.
Fountains of Uke will continue as a class project in future semesters, but the impact of the program has indicated a need for a continuous offering of music engagement to the residents in community care homes. In addition to the impact on seniors it is evident that youth engagement in the program has been meaningful. Student participants have expressed a desire to stay connected to the seniors through music.
Heart & Soul was created as a way to bridge the gaps between the Fountains of Uke sessions. This program is facilitated by a small group of IMHope staff and community volunteers. Participating residents are encouraged to actively contribute to the music making. Music acts as a vehicle for forming links between residents who may not usually interact in a meaningful way.
Millennial Music is IMHope’s third signature program, which provides high school students in Hamilton who have a passion for music with an opportunity to share it with others while simultaneously obtaining volunteer hours. McMaster students co-facilitate the Millennial Music program, which gives the high school students an opportunity to inquire about post-secondary education and form meaningful relationships with the university students. We were pleasantly surprised by the value of these partnerships – for the older adults, as well as the high school students.