Architect of Change of the Week: Michael Rossato-Bennett

Every week in Maria’s newsletter publication The Sunday Paper, we honor individuals who use their voices, their hearts, and their minds to Move Humanity Forward.

This week, in light of the 59th annual Grammy Awards, we wanted to honor a man who is using music to Move Humanity Forward.

Architect of Change of the Week Michael Rossato-Bennett is the director of the documentary “Alive Inside,” an incredible film that chronicles how music can be used to re-awaken the souls of individuals with dementia.

It’s Michael’s mission to reimagine how our society views the elderly and to foster a culture of empathy and acceptance. He wants to use music as a tool to create shared experiences across generations.

1. Seeing How Music Affects People With Dementia Changed My Life. It showed me how phenomenally alive the emotional systems of people with Alzheimer’s are. Music conveys meaning that cannot be expressed in words, and for someone who has dementia, it reignites the pathways of emotions, movement, and memories.”

2. “We Have an Empathy Deficit in our Culture. Young people are being raised through technology and we don’t need each other in the way we used to. Yet I’ve found that when the young connect with the elderly using music, it’s a phenomenal teaching moment. It’s transformative. I invented these headsets that are light, fit on an elder’s head, and are wired so two people can listen at the same time. It’s my dream to have a million kids give a million elders these headsets. It’s cheap and it creates human connection.”

3. “We Should All Share the Soundtrack to Our Lives. My Alive Inside Foundation has an app that lets you write down the soundtrack of your life. Everyone has songs that no one knows they love. Make a playlist and share it with your family, so that if you’re ever cognitively impaired, people will know your music.”

WATCH: The Trailer for Michael’s Film, “Alive Inside”


This feature originally appeared in Maria Shriver’s weekly newsletter publication, The Sunday Paper. Sign up here to receive it in your inbox.


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Lindsay Wilkes-Edrington is Shriver Media's digital director. She’d love to hear your ideas and feedback for the Architects of Change digital community! Connect with her here.

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