Ronald McDonald House (RMH BC)



GED Foundation,

 at Vancouver Foundation


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The Music Therapy Program at Ronald McDonald House is something we can offer families that allows patients, siblings and caregivers alike to participate in a normal activity, that is predictable and fun. Parents are able to witness their children having fun and forget about being sick, or join in and put their own worries aside. The ability to provide ongoing, consistent programming is really important for families and provides some balance, and normality, for families while they stay in their home away from home.”

Tami Hik

Senior Director, Family Services

Ronald McDonald House (RMH BC) provides accommodation for families who must travel to Vancouver for critical medical treatment of a child. The program at RMH BC provides time and space during a stressful day where all families staying at RMH BC can relax, be creative and express some of their emotions through music. Sessions are accessible to seriously ill children, their siblings of all ages as well as parents and caregivers. Their wide variety of string and percussion instruments allow participants with all abilities to join in.


The House is a place of comfort, healing, and a home away from home for kids and families from all across BC and Yukon – like Prince George, Kamloops, Whitehorse and Victoria. They often have families from other provinces and have even had international guests as well. Guests span from newborns to great grandparents which helps make the Music Therapy program such a success. Serving approximately 2000 families every year from over 220 communities, Music Therapy sees a wide and diverse demographic at RMH BC. The program caters to all ages, and welcomes all guests at the House including siblings of patients, parents or grandparents who wish to explore their creative sides.

How does Music Therapy uniquely address the needs of clients at Ronald McDonald House?

Music Therapy is an extremely important and valued program for RMH BC families and benefits them in the following ways:

  • Helps connect families during a difficult time
  • Provides an opportunity for sibling and patients to connect during a normalized activity
  • Allows parents to see their kids doing something fun
  • Allows parents to interact with their kids doing something positive
  • Allows patients to just be kids enjoying music
How has COVID-19 impacted the program?

Individual and group music therapy in-person sessions in the House were suspended from March 15-July 1, 2020. To keep guest families and immune-compromised children safe, the House was closed to visitors and in-person programs. Virtual Music Therapy sessions were implemented with the families still in the House. Instead of usual group drop-ins, one on one programming was provided through Zoom video calls in the months of May and June. Families staying at the House were very responsive to this new model as it allowed them to continue to take part in one of RMH BC’s most beloved programs.

As they slowly re-open they have been able to provide socially-distanced, at times outdoor, in-person sessions for one on one or single family group sessions, allowing for families to stay in their bubble and feel comfortable when taking part in this program.

A statement from RMH BC program manager:

“Ronald McDonald House BC & Yukon is a registered non-profit that must raise the funds necessary to operate the facility, and provide supports and services to the families that benefit from staying in the house.

Music Therapy is one of the vital opportunities we strive to give families during their stay in order to reduce the stress of having a sick child in treatment at the hospital. Research has shown how music can have a calming experience on those processing traumatic emotions. When families find themselves under circumstances requiring them to stay to stay at Ronald McDonald House, our Music Therapy Program is an important part of the healing process we want to provide. Without financial support from the community, we could not offer families such important and enriching services.

The funding we are looking to raise would help ensure our Music Therapy program can still be offered to families throughout the entirety of 2021, and sustain the program as it currently is with Erin leading classes for 7.5 hours per week. It will also provide necessary support as new challenges arise due to COVID-19 requiring us to evolve the way we run our programs and accommodate our families safely.

With our current budget, the ability to maintain our Music Therapy program with these funds means reaching hundreds of kids and parents next year, bringing them together to enjoy creative, positive and happy moments.”

“One story we want to share is about 10-year-old Mitchell. He and his family travelled all the way from Powell River to stay at Ronald McDonald House while Mitchell had to undergo assessments for 30 days. Mitchell quickly discovered the Music Therapy program and arrived in the music room eager and excited to learn guitar. Soon he had picked up basic chords and strum patterns, so he signed up for one on one weekly sessions in addition to attending the drop-in classes. Mitchell was able to borrow a guitar from the RMH BC collection of instruments and would practice in his room daily. Each week he added 2-3 songs to his growing list of tunes he could sing and play on the guitar. His parents were so grateful, and truly appreciated these weekly music lessons and Mitchell’s dedication and focus during such a disruptive time in their lives. By the end of this stay at Ronald McDonald House, Mitchell had a long repertoire of songs and we even managed to record a few using the Band Wagon!”

Erin Parr

“I began my music therapy career in Kamloops, where I worked with a wide range of kids with special needs for 10 years. Later, I moved back to the lower mainland in 2011 and began specializing in using music to help support development for kids age 0-5. I began work at Ronald McDonald house BC in 2017 and started the first NICU Music therapy program at Surrey Memorial Hospital. I am passionate about using music as a therapeutic tool with kids.”

You can help us reach more Canadians with the healing power of music. We invite you to give the gift of music to provide hope, strength, relief and encouragement to Canadians in need.

No contribution is too small!