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Gift of $2.5 million to All Children's Hospital to keep music playing

ST. PETERSBURG — Sometimes, a kid needs to bang a drum, sing a song or listen to a relaxing tune. That's the basic idea behind the music therapy program at All Children's Hospital, which has been a hit with patients for nearly 20 years.

On Monday, the program got a big boost with the announcement of a $2.5 million gift from local music executive and businessman Bill Edwards.

The gift comes just as the current grant for the program is about to expire, hospital spokeswoman Ann Miller said. But Edwards' largesse also will enable the hospital to train additional certified music therapists.

Edwards is founder of Bill Edwards Presents Inc. and Big 3 Entertainment; chairman and chief executive of Mortgage Investors Corp.; and is one of the new owners of St. Petersburg concert venue Jannus Live. In a news release, he said, "we all owe a responsibility to our community to help our children stay healthy and happy."

Music therapy is used for patients of all ages, for many types of therapy. It relaxes and soothes; provides a distraction from the pain, fear and stress of being in a hospital; and it also can help with motor skills. Meryl Barns, the hospital's lone board-certified music therapist, said the program works with about 90 to 100 children each month.

A patient might write a song or play an instrument to express his feelings, Barns said. Kids who face long hospitalizations might set a goal, such as learning to play a song on the guitar.

Edwards' gift will also help the hospital expand GetWellNetwork, an interactive education and entertainment system run through bedside televisions.

Richard Martin can be reached at rmartin@sptimes.com or (727) 893-8330. Go to tampabay.com/health for more medical news.

Gift of $2.5 million to All Children's Hospital to keep music playing 05/10/10 [Last modified: Monday, May 10, 2010 10:44pm]
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