The Rhythm of Hope: Drumming Therapy for Pediatric Cancer Patients
The Austin Hatcher Foundation for Pediatric Cancer offers an innovative drumming therapy program at Children’s of Alabama. This program allows young cancer patients to express themselves through playing the drums in both one-on-one and group therapy sessions. The Austin Hatcher Foundation for Pediatric Cancer has made it their mission to not only erase the effects of childhood cancer but to optimize the quality of life for these kids as they experience the impact of a diagnosis and brave the trials of their ongoing treatment. This program allows children to discover and communicate their emotions while going through such a complicated and burdensome time.
Expressive activities such as drumming allows children to ease the stress and distress of pediatric cancer. When combined with conventional medical treatments, the drumming and rhythm circle is proven to strengthen resilience and enhance a child’s emotional health and well-being. Ultimately, this supports the healing process as patients are able to express themselves more freely throughout the treatment.
Walker Wright, the foundation’s certified drumming therapist, facilitates the program three days a week at the hospital by engaging the children in therapeutic drumming. “Drumming can be its own conversation. It is often difficult for children who are walking through cancer to express what they are feeling through words,” says Wright. “Whether it’s fear, anger, joy sadness, frustration or excitement, the kids are able to express their feelings through drumming without ever saying a word. You wouldn’t believe some of the awesome conversations we’ve had, using a drum and no words!”
Walker has created a special bond with the children while connecting with them and providing them with a creative musical outlet. His regular visits offer a sense of stability in the chaos of the children’s lives, and he provides comfort and reminds them how resilient they can be. The children are from all different types of life, ages, and nationalities, but they all connect through finding the rhythm of the drums and the hope that the program creates.
“People may think of hospitals as being quiet, filled only with the sounds of hospital machines, but the halls at Children’s of Alabama tell a different story. It’s not uncommon to walk into a child’s room and find them with a tambourine in one hand and hitting a djembe with the other, playing to their favorite song,” says Wright. “Although these kids are often very sick, they are just like other kids who love to laugh, listen to music, and simply enjoy what it means to be a kid. Drumming helps them forget, if even for a moment, that they have cancer. Who knew we had so many rock stars walking our halls!”
This innovative drumming therapy program is just what the kids need to escape the mental block that can come from treatment and lets them explore their imagination. The Austin Hatcher Foundation is proud to support Children’s of Alabama by providing young patients with an outlet for creative and emotional expression through this heart-warming program.
“I am grateful to the Austin Hatcher Foundation for providing the wonderful opportunity for me to work alongside the patients, families, and staff at Children’s. I count it a true privilege and honor to be a part of both the Foundation and Hospital team!” says Wright.