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  • Teens bring ukulele, Taylor Swift tunes to Mary Bridge

    by Halley Knigge

    Wednesdays are special at MultiCare Mary Bridge Children’s Hospital.

    They’re the days when Gig Harbor High School seniors Alexa DeYoung and Mara Kramer visit to cheer young patients with guitar, ukulele and the healing powers of Taylor Swift.

    The teens have been volunteering since January as part of a senior project for Gig Harbor High School. Seniors must incorporate 24 hours of volunteer service, and are encouraged to choose service in areas that interest them.

    So one day each week they pack up their instruments and drive to Tacoma, where they spend an hour and a half going from room to room, and serenading patients with crowd-pleasers like Taylor Swift, Justin Bieber and One Direction.

    Their most popular song? Taylor Swift’s “We are never ever getting back together,” which the girls say they perform 12-15 times each visit, and had more than one young patient tapping fingers and toes in their hospital beds this past Wednesday.

    “For me this is a really cool thing, because I really believe that music can heal people,” said Alexa. “So even just seeing someone smile is amazing.”

    Mara says some patients get so excited when they hear the volunteers begin to play popular music that they recognize that they’ll dance and sing along.

    Both young women are self-taught and have been playing their respective instruments for less than two years. The project began as a way to help others, but has become something powerful for Alexa and Mara as well.

    “It’s a really cool experience … it’s really cool seeing people react to music,” said Mara. “[And] it’s kind of different getting out of your comfort zone.”

    When they first started volunteering, the two were so nervous about performing in front of people and the possibility of rejection that they’d count to five, then force themselves to knock on a patient’s door.

    Alexa says volunteering has helped her get over some of her own fears.

    “I thought it was going to be a lot scarier than it [has been]. I used to never want to play in front of people,” she says. “It’s been a lot of fun.”

    Learn more about volunteering at MultiCare Mary Bridge Hospital and Health Center.

    Posted on Apr 1, 2013 in Community Support