Artists Gather to Raise Funds for Children's Hospital

The Arts for Healing benefit performance is Thursday at 8 p.m. in Zellerbach Playhouse. Advance tickets can be purchased by e-mailing [email protected] or by calling (510) 872-3337.

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UC Berkeley is known for inviting some of the premier thinkers and artists of our times to campus. But it's not everyday that a group of them comes together at one time in an effort to benefit pediatric medicine at a local hospital.

An event this Thursday, organized by UC Berkeley's Arts for Healing group, aims to raise funds to establish a music therapy program at the Children's Hospital Oakland.

It will feature a diverse group of artists ranging from a U.S. Poet Laureate to nationally acclaimed dance groups and music ensembles.

Children's Hospital Oakland provides medical care to every child who comes to them, no matter the family's financial circumstances. The hospital requires outside financial support from individuals and organizations to perform these duties, support that has been a little harder to come by in a slowing economy.

"I wanted to do something that would have a lasting impression on the community, and I felt that supporting (the music therapy) program would do just that," said Ben Levy, founder of Arts for Healing.

The group's first project is to raise the $30,000 needed for the music therapy program.

Children's Hospital Oakland provides programs like music therapy to make hospital stays more amicable to children, according to hospital spokesperson Valerie Schultz.

Music therapy uses the many aspects of music-emotional, physical, mental, aesthetic, social and spiritual-to improve and maintain a patient's health.

"(Music therapy) helps people cope with hospitalization and chronic illness," said Dawn Iwamasa, a music therapist involved with the hospital's pilot program. It teaches relaxation techniques and helps channel frustration.

Music therapy also aims at enhancing communication between patient and parents, thereby helping both cope with the illness, Iwamasa added.

The major patient population supported by music therapy at the hospital is cancer-afflicted children. Iwamasa hopes the money raised will allow this service to further develop and to expand throughout the hospital.


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