Maryville University Announces Kids Rock Cancer Plans and Priorities

Reflecting Maryville Forward, the popular 13-year community service looks ahead

Maryville University developed and supports Kids Rock Cancer (KRC), a valuable community outreach program that provides music therapy at no charge to patients and their families when a cancer or blood disorder (like sickle cell disease) has been diagnosed. Kids Rock Cancer is expanding, now offering more comprehensive music therapy services to individuals affected by these conditions. Additionally, KRC has committed to supporting children, teens, and young adults by offering follow-up and follow-through therapeutic songwriting sessions during key phases of their journey.

“Kids Rock Cancer, now in its 14th year, is a priority community program for Maryville,” said Laraine Davis, Maryville’s Vice President of Community and Government Relations. “We now have new faculty and staff in place to further Maryville’s presence in educating and training the next generation of music therapists.”

Crystal Weaver, MHA, LPC, CFC, MT-BC, is the director of music therapy for Maryville University’s Myrtle E. And Earl E. Walker College of Health Professions. Weaver has multiple leadership roles, as a clinical assistant professor, supervisor of Music Therapy Program faculty and staff, and adviser for undergraduate and graduate students. She manages the accreditation process through the National Association of Schools of Music, fosters relationships with community partners, and serves as the principal investigator of qualitative and quantitative research. Maryville music therapy students have the opportunity to complete practicum and internship experiences through the KRC program.

Alison Cole, MBA, MT-BC, a Maryville alumna honored in 2020 with the Spirit of Maryville Award, has joined the KRC team as the new lead music therapist. Cole also serves as a ‘music therapist in residence’ for the Maryville University Music Therapy Program. She is a mentor, guide, and expert for music therapy students, providing lectures and master classes to undergraduates and graduate students, and creating learning opportunities for students through fieldwork.

While honoring the therapeutic songwriting tradition of KRC, Cole will draw from years of clinical experience supporting pediatric patients and engaging families to move KRC into new horizons. For example, new “heartbeat songs” will allow Kids Rock Cancer to serve infants and toddlers in addition to children, adolescents, and young adults. A pilot project of audio “legacy recordings” allows children to invite parents, grandparents, and guardians to be active participants during therapeutic songwriting sessions.

“Music is an amazing tool in therapy,” said Cole. “Engaging someone in music can be a strong diversion when dealing with a diagnosis of cancer or blood disorders, as well as a form of self-expression about a patient’s needs, feelings, or level of pain. I love helping people and I love music.”

About Kids Rock Cancer: KRC is a program of Maryville University that uses the power of music therapy to help families cope with a cancer or blood disorder diagnosis. The program provides certified music therapists to help children, siblings, and parents use music and songwriting as a therapeutic vehicle for self-expression. Maryville Forward presents new approaches and opportunities to propel Maryville “forward” into the next 150 years.

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