SunnyBrook residents try their hand at social drumming

By Gretchen Teske, Mt. Pleasant News


There were no idle hands at Sunnybrook on Wednesday as every resident, visitor and staff member had a drum or maraca in their hands as Annie Mielke and Joe Parrish, co-founders of Adventures in Social Drumming, stopped by to give residents the chance to try an exercise for both the body and mind.

Adventures in social drumming was introduced to SunnyBrook residents as part of their lifelong learning series. The series, which brings in one new activity a month, aims to keep residents active physically, socially and mentally. ?I think it gives them a learning experience and a new innovative hobby they may not have tried when they were younger,? said Sunnybrook Executive Director Jason Murphy. ?I think it?s good for their mind and their body and their soul. The experience gives them memories.?

Making memories and exercising the brain is the goal of social drumming, according to its co-founder Joe Parrish. He told the residents the hand-over-hand movements they were practicing were helping to stimulate their left and right brain and jolt episodic memory. Parrish first started the program over seven years ago and began taking it to senior living facilities a little over three years ago after his father entered one and needed something fun to do. The program was first introduced to children on the autism spectrum, to give them something to try and stimulate their minds.

?It?s fun to drum because you can?t do it wrong,? said Mielke. ?Once you start playing, you forget you?re playing.?

The duo have been to over 182 different senior living facilities in their adventures together. She says she has introduced her father to drumming because it stimulates the mind, activates the body and just one hour of drumming can burn nearly 250 calories. ?That?s not a bad workout for someone who?s in their 70s,? she said.

Parrish agrees that drumming is not just about the body and mind, but the social aspect plays a large part as well. While they may not be able to hear each other?s voices over the music, they can see the smiles and joy on faces and feel the rhythms, which keeps it social. He says by allowing them the chance to play, they are given a new way to communicate. ?When you can get everyone having a good time together and everyone feels validated, then you?re going to see that spread,? he says. ?It?s just so fun.?