About a month ago now our Alzheimer's Poetry Group was lucky enough to do a second facility visit. This time we were at the Nevada Senior Services Adult Day Care Center. Similar to our first facility visit the group was mixed, there were patients with Alzheimer's, dementia, and various others who joined in our group. The group size this time? 50!! 50 people and about 5 more when you count in staff members. We were all nervous about the group size. Jennifer had a powwow with Gary prior to our visit, and we had a pre-visit meeting at my house simply because going from 15 to 50 is a jump! Plus our program runs on a timeline, the intimidation of the group size was real y'all.
And then, and then, and then, we got there.
All our worries were easily moved aside when we realized how engaged this large group was. Upon our arrival they were in a horseshoe shape, which made connecting with them easier. Those who were more willing to participate were closer to the front, they had their chairs turned towards us, and were sat with their friends. There was one gentleman, who after ever poem and activity screamed THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU with so much joy and enthusiasm, it was hard to keep a straight face. This round we did use a microphone, which was awkward at first, and limited the speaking persons range of motion, but this group seemed clued into "pay attention to the person with the microphone." (This facility does several activities throughout the week, so they're certainly active!)
We'd decided to go in with a theme this time, so we all did bird poems, and we even included Arthur, Charlene's tree, because birds live in trees. It is also lovely to see that sparkle in people's eyes when she starts doing 'Trees', that glimmer of "I know this one" is beautiful.
Like before the session ended with us creating a group poem. Andrew wrote down the answers to the questions I asked the group, and this is where I felt the most pressure from a group of 50. Many answers came from the same 10 people, and Jennifer and Charlene were walking around to say answers louder if we couldn't hear them. I didn't want anyone to feel ignored, and in the end I think everyone got to contribute their snippet, many giving us the same snippet. Being a bird seems to leave everyone with the same feelings.
If I were a bird I'd fly high!
I'd fly to Europe,
I'd see the ocean.
If I were a bird I would live in a tree!
I would be a red bird,
A blue bird,
A predator bird, like an eagle!
I would be a free bird,
I would be a singing bird.
If I were a bird I'd never stop flying.
At the end of our time with this group we got several more exuberant thank you, thank you, thank yous, and we felt like we'd really given this group something to remember. Before we left we did have one more thing for them. Poet Nancy Nelson had joined us, and spent about 10 minutes reading her poems and talking about her story of being diagnosed with Alzheimer's with the group. Seeing everyone in the group utterly wrapped up in Nancy's work, in her story, in what she was saying was amazing. They were so focused, and some seemed relieved that someone "gets it". I'd encourage everyone to check out blueriverapple.com to learn more about Nancy and her amazing work.
|Left to Right|
Dee Dee Woodbury (Activity Director) Charlene, Andrew, Jennifer, Ami Rebecca, Nancy Nelson
About two weeks later we were able to get a personalized training from Gary Glazner himself! It was a fun time discussing our visits, asking our questions, and learning more about bringing students into the program as well! Thanks Mr. Gladness!!
|Left To Right Top Row|
Chalese, Jennifer, Charlene, Ami Rebecca, Andrew, Bruce
Vogue, Gary Glazner
Until Next Time,