Heber City • Even as a teenager, Sophie Barton loved to play and sing in hospitals, believing in music’s healing powers.
And now, two years after she died, her commitment will live on, thanks to the efforts of Primary Children’s Medical Center and the Forever Young Foundation.
Monday at Red Ledges Golf Club – in a spectacular Heber Valley setting, not far from where Barton, 17, collapsed following a hike at an LDS Church girls camp – former BYU and NFL quarterback Steve Young announced plans to honor her. The first Sophie’s Place will be constructed in August at the hospital in Salt Lake City, where visiting artists will perform and patients also can record music.
Young grew up in Connecticut with Barton’s mother, Anne-Marie. The idea to honor Barton, who lived in Holladay and attended Olympus High School, and promote music therapy came from Young’s wife, Barb. The concept is an extension of the Forever Young Zones created in three hospitals, including PCMC, that provide recreational and social opportunities, outside of the patients’ rooms.
Music therapy is “hitting its stride,” Steve Young said. “It’s doing things for kids when nothing else is happening.”
Young believes musicians will want will to perform and record YouTube videos at Sophie’s Place, and that such events will bring children together. Mobile units and closed-circuit telecasts will benefit patients who are unable to leave their rooms.
Sophie Barton, a signer-songwriter, is said to have spent 100 hours performing her music in hospitals.
During the Steve Young Mountain Classic, the foundation’s annual fund-raising tournament at Red Ledges, Anne-Marie Barton greeted participants, giving them a personal sense of the charitable effort, and joined the Youngs in an interview. “Music changes everything,” she said.
Funding already is in place for Sophie’s Room, Steve Young said. Like the Forever Young Zones, he hopes that more Sophie’s Places can be built at other facilities, modeling the flagship venue at PCMC.