Variety funds music therapy at Royal Columbian Hospital


Music therapist Michelle Choi and Variety Grant Program Manager Leslie Louie perform with children in Royal Columbian Hospital’s pediatric unit.

New Westminster, B.C. – {February 4, 2016} – Funding from Variety – The Children’s Charity is helping elevate the mood, encourage communication and reduce anxiety for children admitted to Royal Columbian Hospital’s Pediatric Unit.

Those are among the benefits of a music therapist, whose work is being funded by a $20,000 contribution from Variety to Royal Columbian Hospital Foundation. A further $15,000 grant will help support families from outside the Lower Mainland who face financial hardships because a child or pregnant mother is hospitalized at Royal Columbian.

The music therapist is making twice-a-week visits to the 12-bed unit to work individually with patients, who range from newborn to adolescent. As a regional pediatric care centre, the unit provides a high level of care to more than 1,000 patients each year, from communities including Burnaby, Coquitlam, Maple Ridge, New Westminster, Pitt Meadows, Port Moody and Port Coquitlam.

“Children are treated for a range of ailments in our Pediatric Unit, including respiratory infections, flu, diabetes, appendicitis, asthma and other forms of allergy, heart conditions, broken bones and bone malformations and mental illness,” notes Royal Columbian Hospital Foundation President and CEO Jeff Norris. “Music can provide a sense of independence and individuality and can also help cope with difficult situations.”

The hospital admits close to 100 pediatrics patients for mental health concerns each year, and music therapy can contribute positively to their recovery.

“It is well-documented that the peak ages for the first expression of psychiatric disorders are adolescence and early adulthood,” explains Joanne Shum, Fraser Health Child and Youth Services Director. “It is also proven that intervention at the earliest stage of disorders increases the effectiveness and efficacy of treatment. Music therapy is a proven tool for helping us reach these patients. The aim of the therapy is to help individuals develop relationships, express what’s going on for them, and address issues they may not be able to address using words alone. ”

“At Variety, we’re proud to be teaming up with Royal Columbian Hospital in the delivery of their music therapy program,” says Kristy Gill, executive director of Variety – The Children’s Charity. “Providing funding to the hospital is just one of the ways we widen our reach to help children in British Columbia with special needs. As we move into our 50th anniversary celebrations, we aim to help even more children directly.”

Centre of excellence
Royal Columbian Hospital provides specialized care for cardiac services, trauma, neurosciences, high risk maternity and neonatal intensive care for some of the most seriously ill and injured people from across British Columbia. Located at the heart of one of the fastest growing health regions in Canada, the hospital serves a population of more than 1.7 million people (one in three British Columbians). Royal Columbian is also a UBC teaching hospital with a Clinical Academic Campus.

Raising Funds
Royal Columbian Hospital Foundation is an independent charitable foundation that raises millions of dollars annually to help fund priority equipment needs, facility enhancements, research, education and innovation at Royal Columbian Hospital. For more information about Royal Columbian Hospital Foundation, visit or contact us at 604 520 4438.