Music program for sick kids expands to online

McKenzie Andersen (right) sings with MyMusicRx specialist Elke Downer. (KATU Photo)

For many people, music is therapy, a way to escape and to be inspired and happy.

That’s especially true for sick kids at local hospitals.

MyMusicRX has been around for more than 30 years through the Children’s Cancer Association, and it has launched an extension of its flagship program so kids can access it anywhere online.

One of those kids is 10-year-old McKenzie Andersen. She loves music.

“I want to be a singer-songwriter when I grow up because I love music so much. It makes me happy,” she says.

It’s what makes her smile.

“When I’m going through tough things, it impacts me. It has an impact on my life,” she says.

Four years ago, McKenzie’s life changed. She was diagnosed with acute flaccid myelitis, a polio-like disease.

“When I was six, I got paralyzed from the neck down,” she says.

“She got out of school for Christmas break with the sniffles, and within 12 days, she was paralyzed from the neck down and on a ventilator,” says McKenzie’s mom, Angie.

So, when she met a music specialist through the Children’s Cancer Association during her stay at the hospital, it inspired her.

“Music helped me get through the first part of my disease,” McKenzie says.

Now, she doesn’t have to go to the hospital to have a dose of happiness from her MyMusicRX specialist. Elke Downer, who’s one of the music specialists, can be available to McKenzie at any time.

“That is an online extension of our bedside hospital program, so that way, kids, teens and their families can access all of this content online whether or not they’re in the hospital,” Elke says.

“You see your child devastated and you want to give everything back to them, so every little piece is a lifesaver,” says Angie.

And for McKenzie, being able to access her music specialist at any time means the world.

“Whether you just went through an IV or anything -- you could do it without having to go to the hospital. And you can be at home. You can be at a waterpark, you can be anywhere,” she says.

The new digital service is now available online, on any device at mymusicrx.org.

It has extensive content -- from music lessons, games and exclusive videos from national recording artists like Ed Sheeran, Nick Jonas, Ringo Starr and The Decemberists.

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