Sophomore Pursues Passion for Helping Others Through Music
Sophomore Aaram Salam is showing what service learning and leadership look like by combining two of his passions: music and helping people who live with Alzheimer’s disease.
Salam’s interest in Alzheimer’s research dates back to childhood visits in India with his great-grandfather, who had the progressive neurological disorder. By seventh grade, Salam had begun volunteering to assist Alzheimer’s patients in India and in the Kansas City area. As part of his commitment to service, he plays piano every month (virtually, for now) at a Johnson County dementia care facility.
In December, Salam and three sophomores classmates, Finnian Waldron, Gus Ketchell and Lahna Groden, performed a virtual holiday concert for the residents at Care Haven Homes.
Salam founded Barstow’s Alzheimer’s Awareness Club as a freshman. Last year, club members conducted research at the Care Haven facility to determine the effectiveness of music and art as treatments for residents. Salam played the piano for them, then the group asked residents to draw pictures that represented memory and love. They determined that the music was more effective in helping patients feel temporarily better.
“Though my work did not provide a permanent solution, it expressed itself as a temporary therapeutic experience for the patients who suffer from the disease, proving that even little good deeds that someone does matter,” Salam said.
Salam earned the Congressional Award Bronze Medal for volunteer service, leadership, activity and exploration in March. He is now pursuing his silver medal. The awards are the highest honor for youth awarded by Congress. He was featured on KCUR in June.