Langley Lodge Walli (Mildred) Burnell enjoys playing in the hand chime choir

Langley gala funds music therapy

Langley Lodge hosts its annual Caring Hearts event on Sept. 24.

Walli Burnell’s eyes light up when she describes her participation with Langley Lodge’s hand chime choir.

Burnell, a resident of the Langley City seniors care facility, is a 93-year-old woman with three children and numerous grandchildren.

Christened Mildred, she has always gone by Walli. Growing up, she lived in Ontario and Quebec – though she questions if she ever really did grow up. And, later in life she moved to B.C. to be with her husband.

At UBC she earned her bachelor of arts degree and later, attained her masters in social work. Through the years she dedicated herself to life-long learning and attended other universities taking various classes.

In her professional life, she pursued various career paths. Some roles included being a social worker and teaching geography and literature in a small school. In addition, while in the Air Force, she taught Morse code – something that is virtually unknown to today’s generation.

Burnell proudly states that she has lived a full and interesting life.

She owned her own boat and she was married to a commercial fisherman. She especially enjoyed accompanying him up and down the Coast whenever possible.

Burnell mentioned that she has been to some strange places and done some crazy things.

“But those are stories that I’ll keep to myself,” she smiled.

She has always loved giving and receiving advice. However, she noted that like most people, the advice she followed was usually dependant on who was giving it.

Her favourite piece of advice that she has passed along repeatedly throughout her life: “Don’t be too afraid to take chances.”

Love of music re-ignited

Burnell enjoys playing the hand chimes with her friends at Langley Lodge.

She has always enjoyed music and that passion was rekindled with her participation in the weekly music therapy session.

The therapy program at Langley Lodge engages residents with music and has positive effects on participants and spectators alike, said a lodge spokesperson. Burnell and others in the choir especially enjoy performing for family and friends on special occasions.

Research suggests that music heals the body and the mind. Despite impaired memory capacity, individuals with dementia respond positively to the music of their youth.

But music therapy at Langley Lodge is only made possible through charitable donations and community support.

In order to ensure this and other “beneficial” programs – music, horticulture, and art therapy – are a part of life at Langley Lodge, the Langley Care Foundation must fundraise.

Towards this end, the foundation is hosting its seventh annual Caring Hearts Gala on Saturday, Sept. 24. For information or to buy tickets, people can call Langley Lodge at 604-532-4207 or visit www.caringheartsgala.com.

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