In September I had the great fortune to two training workshops. The first was a TimeSlips creative storytelling training organized by a dedicated group of volunteers who are part of the Minnesota Dementia Care Professionals network. 130 people squeezed themselves around long tables in the chapel of a nursing home in St. Paul, MN. Joyce Konczyk, the organizer of the training, used her webinar savvy to enable me to do a live demonstration on the 3rd floor of the nursing home that was live fed to the computer/screen down in the chapel.
The second training, held at Cedar Villages in Mason, Ohio, was part of ASA’s/Metlife’s MindAlert program. “Imagine That: Creative Engagment in Dementia Care, is a day-long workshop that invites participants of all backgrounds and work responsibilities to feel the excitement and freedom of creative expression, and then imagine ways to use it to engage with the older adults in their lives. We play with words through stories and poetry as well as simple movement exercises.
In both workshops, toward the end of what is a long, but exilarating day, you could see the excitement in people’s eyes. In Ohio, the teams around each table created multi-tiered projects around a traditional “activity” for people with dementia. “Sorting poker chips” became an opportunity for creating playful sculptures; for becoming a make believe monetary system that could buy you your dreams; and a pleasurable sensory experience as you ran your hands through an enormous bin of chips. And this was from the table with the CEO, who shared the day with us.
With two small children at home, and a husband who travels for work, the travel for trainings is a tough juggle for me. But seeing the “aha’s” in their eyes at these two fabulous trainings gives me the sense that there is a longing for change that might just use creative engagement as its starting point.
The October training line-up:
- a 4 hour workshop on Creative Engagement with Susan McFadden at the Wisconsin Assoc. of Homes and Services for the Aging in Green Bay, WI
- a TimeSlips workshop in Seattle and a keynote for the National Adult Day Services Association
- a presentation on the Penelope Project at a conference at the University of Iowa on public scholarship.