Today the UKC is an international charity that has helped thousands of children around the world to overcome the stress, anxiety and health challenges of serious health conditions. But it started out with the simple idea of giving back, through music.
In 2013, Corey Bergman, a life-long musician, began volunteering at local hospitals in Miami, Florida as a way of coping with the tragic loss of his son, Jared. As he played guitar for young patients and their families, he says, “I could plainly see that the act of listening to and playing music, and holding an instrument, has a deep positive effect on a child. All the anxiety and fear of the hospital just fades away and this kid becomes a kid again.”
Then, two developments quickly brought the future UKC sharply into focus. First, Corey connected with music therapists at Miami Children’s Hospital, Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital and others, and gained exposure to the field of music therapy. Through music therapy, certified professionals help patients use music to achieve clinical goals, which in the case of young children might include lowering anxiety and stress, improving vital signs, and a multitude of other results. Second, the simplicity and small size of the ukulele made it seem like the ideal vehicle for music therapy with even the smallest patients.
In 2014, Corey and his wife Edda incorporated the UKC. Its mission was, and remains, to support music therapy for hospitalized children, by giving children a ukulele to use during their hospital stay, and to keep when they go home. Each year, the UKC delivers thousands of ukuleles, to a growing network of more than 200 hospitals in the U.S. and in North America, Europe and Asia.
Giving back, through music – this is the idea behind UKC, past, present and future.