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Over the last month, each Saturday you'd find Clayton Smith, 15, stroking the keys of the black baby grand piano at Parkway Place (a faith-based senior living community in Houston) while residents clap and sing along to the classical tunes or Broadway hits. The Westside High School student spent his lunchtimes at the senior living community to earn his Citizenship in the Community merit badge. He has been a Boy Scout for five years and hopes to achieve Eagle Scout status. Earning the Citizenship in the Community merit badge brings him one step closer to that accomplishment. Smith has been playing the piano for nearly a decade and came up with the idea to perform for seniors at Parkway Place after visiting the community with his school band. 

“I love music, and I enjoy sharing my talents with the residents of Parkway Place,” said Smith. “When I was deciding how to earn my merit badge, I knew I wanted to involve music. I was familiar with Parkway Place because I live near the community, and I performed there with my school band. The residents’ reactions have been wonderful. I was surprised to learn some of the residents were musicians themselves, so they have a deeper appreciation for the music. The residents get involved while I play, and I’ve noticed they really love the Broadway hits and the church hymns. They sing along while they enjoy their lunch, and that’s fun to see. I am thankful that Parkway Place gave me this opportunity to perform for its residents.”

The music is entertaining for residents, but it also is therapeutic. Here are just five of the many benefits music has for seniors:

•           Motivates movement

•           Rekindles positive memories

•           Calms nervousness

•           Encourages happy thoughts

•           Promotes social interaction

“Having Clayton perform over the last month was inspiring,” said Susan Phelps, executive director at Parkway Place. “He is very talented, and the residents enjoyed listening to the different types of music he can play. He even learned new songs specifically for the residents. I know he positively impacted the lives of residents in our community. We are happy to help him earn his merit badge, and we wish him success as he works towards Eagle Scout status.”

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