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Richelle Lewis

Richelle Lewis
Richelle Lewis listens to music therapist Tom Dalton sing her favorite tunes. Music therapy is one of the many programs that enrich the lives of Agnews residents.

Richelle is 43 years old and profoundly retarded. A bike helmet protects her head because she is prone to grand mal seizures. Ricki, as she is called, is nonverbal and relatively sedate--except when music plays.

Then she comes alive, touching the guitar to feel the vibrations and moving her fingers rapidly in reaction to the tune. Sometimes she will even get up and move about the room, as if dancing.

The daughter of Betty and Jack Lewis, Richelle resides at Agnews Developmental Center. It is here where, as far as Ricki is concerned, the music lives.

Agnews' music man is Tom Dalton. A registered music therapist, Dalton sees Ricki three times a week in sessions where she can listen and participate. He sings and plays guitar, drums and keyboard, and he teaches Ricki and other Agnews residents to do the same.

Dalton says music therapy is a creative outlet for the people who live there. "It's really about quality of life," Dalton adds. Ricki has lived at Agnews for 20 years, and her parents hope she can remain there.

"We always thought Ricki would be at Agnews forever," Mrs. Lewis says.

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From the April 24-30, 1997 issue of Metro

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Copyright © 1997 Metro Publishing, Inc.

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