Social Wellness ActivitiesInvite me to make music and you capture my interest. Invite me to another talk on wellness activities and you are more likely to get a “let me check my calendar and get back to you” response.  (Something tells me I’m not alone on this.)

The various paradigms of wellness are an educational push in health care. Depending on the company or presenter these paradigms vary in number and in name. Yet, most include a social aspect. July is Social Wellness month.

Before you stop reading and say this information isn’t for me, WAIT! I promise to give you some ideas for social activities with music! If you already know the answer to the Social Wellness questions, go ahead and scroll to the bottom for the music goods.

What is Social Wellness?

According to Kendra Cherry, social wellness involves: good communication, social relationships, respecting yourself and others, and developing a support system. While online relationships and contacts can support social wellness, face-to-face relationships between individuals and within a group are important

Does it only apply to adults?

Humans are by nature social beings. We all benefit from appropriate social interaction

What do we need to know about social wellness with young children?

Children benefit from quality social interactions. It is important to see appropriate social interactions modeled by adults. Opportunities to practice and develop social skills are also important.

What do we need to know about social wellness with those in senior living communities?

For many moving into a senior living community means a social change. Individuals may feel overwhelmed by the number of people and the variety of backgrounds of those around them.

Health can also impact our ability to interact. Remember changes in vision and hearing alter our perception and reception of information.

Do the social worlds of young children and seniors overlap in a Social Wellness model?

They used to exist on a more frequent basis within the family. Grandparents living with or near a child with children was more common.  Intergenerational programming is one way to support this.

What role can music play in social wellness activities?

When shared with another person or within a group, music can be a social experience. The interplay of sound and silence, the sharing of ideas is social. Music can cue social graces (saying hello or goodbye), it supports listening, it can be structured to meet abilities of those participating. It can create space for interaction.

Time for the fun stuff!.

Here are a few ideas to get your music activity juices flowing.

Drum circles can be adapted to most abilities from age three to 99. Drum circles call on participants to listen and to respond to others.

Dancing can allow socially appropriate touch. Infants can be held and supported as an adult moves to the music. Toddlers can lead a creative movement or follow a structured social dance like the Hokey Pokey or the Chicken Dance. Seniors likely have a history of dancing – ballroom, square, square, swing, lindy, hula. Many can be adapted to being seated or in a wheelchair if needed. Turn on the music appropriate to the participants and start enjoying.

Singing can be done in a groups of all sizes. A trained singing voice is not required. Select music appropriate to the age of the participants. An infant can be held so their is good eye contact with the caregiver as they gently sing to the child. Make space to reflect the sounds the child makes. Toddlers can use music to build language. Nonsense words or sounds can be used. Many song lists for older adults and intergenerational groups can be found here at Music Sparks.

Instruments can be played.  Depending on the age, interest and ability break out recorders, Boomwhackers®, tone chimes, rhythm instruments, traditional band or string instruments and create.

Learning opportunities can also be social. Maybe participants learn about various instruments or musicians and share the information with each other. You can add fun by testing knowledge gained with a trivia game.

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