TWIN FALLS — The Alzheimer's Association focuses on research, care, support, and awareness for people battling the disease. Recently, the Idaho Chapter of the association has been putting its efforts into providing a unique experience for residents living with Alzheimer's.
Officials are in the process of organizing an art program that gives people living with Alzheimer's the chance to try watercolor painting in a program known as "Memories in the Making."
“This is a way that we can truly engage individuals with Alzheimer's and their caregivers in a meaningful activity that helps them,” said Adrean Cavener, the Executive Director for the Idaho Chapter of the Alzheimer's Association.
The program will offer either two or three sessions that span four weeks long. In each session, there will be roughly six to eight participants with early or mid-stage dementia. They paint whatever they like, with hopes the activity could help unlock their memories.
“There’s something to be said about colors and art," said Cavener. "Again, we’re not looking at the end product, we're looking at the process. So, what we have found with other individuals is that a black streak across their paper jogs something in their memory.”
Once the sessions conclude, the plan is for organizers and local artists to work together, collect all the paintings, and put on an art show to showcase all the pieces made by the participants.
“This is a really great opportunity to talk about Alzheimer's and dementia in a way that we don’t, said Cavener." Typically, you don’t go to an art show to talk about Alzheimer's and dementia, but it’s a really amazing way that we can talk and educate the public”.
The program is expected to start within the next 30 days, but to become a reality, the program is in need of more volunteers who are eager to help and have the ability to facilitate a conversation with these individuals in attendance.
One of the current volunteers is Graciela Fonseca, a board member for a local arts organization, the Hispanic Cultural Center. Graciela has been involved in the arts for years assisting in youth programs and wherever else she can lend a hand.
Graciela has always been open to trying new things in the arts field and feels this program will be an exciting experience.
“It’s a very enriching feeling that you can help somebody explore themselves," said Fonseca. "I think that's the wonder, that is awe-inspiring to me.”
What excites Graciela most about being involved in this program is that she has seen, firsthand how participating in an activity such as this, can positively impact someone's life.
“I have this idea of people healing through the arts, and I believe that they can, and I believe that they do, they just don’t recognize it," said Fonseca. "Bringing awareness to that fact, that you can heal through the arts and it’s a wonderful process.”
Although art is the focal point of "Memories in the Making", it truly is about the individual behind the brush.
“Seeing what they produce is one part of it," said Fonseca. "But, the real work has to do with their personal growth, their awareness, their self-awareness and their self-acceptance of who they are.”
For anyone who would like to participate or volunteer for this program, it is best to call the Alzheimer's Association office at 208-206-0041.
The Magic Valley Walk to End Alzheimer's is on September 25th at the College of Southern Idaho. You can join our team by clicking here.