The iPod Project: RSGC’s Community Service Initiative

The members of RSGC’s iPod Project initiative pictured outside Vermont Square Long Term Care Home

The members of RSGC’s iPod Project initiative pictured outside Vermont Square Long Term Care Home

By Joey McMeans

One cold Tuesday afternoon not too long ago, 4 boys bundled up from RSGC and walked over to Vermont Square Long Term Care home on Bathurst and Barton to officially begin their involvement in the iPod Project.

The iPod Project, also called the Mind and Memory Project, began in 2006 under Executive Director Dan Cohen who began the project to help seniors living in long term care homes listen to their favourite music, and help them recall memories of the past using music.

Since 2006, the project has quickly grown in scale, now reaching to hundreds of long term care homes across Canada and the US, as well as being featured in the 2014 documentary film, Alive Inside, which was screened at the Sundance Film Festival and won the Audience Award for US Documentaries.

Now the project has arrived at RSGC. Fraser Stevenson, grade 12 student and leader of the initiative at RSGC, became inspired when he first worked with the iPod Project in his grade 11 year. He credits his love for the songs of the 20th century and wanting to share it, as well as his family’s history with Alzheimer’s.

“My grandfather had Alzheimer’s after he was in a car accident, a few years ago. That’s why I took it further, because my grandfather didn’t have this tool, but I wish he had, and I want to help others with this [tool].”

Fraser’s program gathers students from around the school on Tuesdays to head over to Vermont Square Long Term Care Home and spend an hour with the seniors there, chatting, relaxing, and taking part in activities with them. The students also spend time interviewing the seniors, and learning about their favourite types of music and what they would like to listen to, laying the foundation for further visits with the seniors when the playlist with their music has been made.

This initiative has attracted students from all across the school to take part in it. Even those without any personal connection to Alzheimer’s have joined in.

“Thankfully no one in my family has been affected by the disease, but I’ve learned a lot about Alzheimer’s and about how a large amount of seniors in our community need good healthcare, because they can’t take care of themselves. I have worked with the iPod Project and the Alzheimer’s society [of Canada, in the past so I know how much good it can do. I want to be a part of spreading the iPod Project to seniors in our community.” Being the Community service prefect, Nick Ramsubick is a very active member of community service projects in the RSGC Community.

The benefits of this community service initiative go beyond the wonderful effects it has on the seniors at Vermont Square, especially for Community Service advisor Mrs. Emma Totten who has worked with Fraser since he brought the idea to her in November of 2014.

“It is important because it was started by a student, making it authentic; it helps support a wonderful cause, helping seniors with Alzheimer’s; it connects high school students and seniors, who may be lonely or want to share with someone new; and it creates a connection between the school and a local organization.” For all of these reasons, this new initiative reaching into the RSGC community is really important.

Watch this video in which Henry explains the impact of the iPod Project has had on his life.

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