“The challenge of history is to recover the past and introduce it to the present.”
Old photographs hang, framed with years and a little dust. Stories are told, and culture, traditions and sense of being are handed through generations. A grandfather tells of adventures to grandchildren gathered around his chair. A grandmother teaches her granddaughter secret family recipes. Yet not everyone has family close by, and may have little contact with the younger and other generations for these sharing moments.
At the Therapeutic Activation Program for Seniors (TAPS), we strive to elicit and safeguard these souvenirs, memories and reminiscences so that they might be valued by the seniors and enjoyed and shared with upcoming generations, whether in families or in our communities. Healthy Intergenerational and Multigenerational Connections is a yearlong program made possible by a grant from New Horizons for Seniors. This summer, we have been working with Grizzly Bear Out of School Care on several projects all around this theme. Over the year, we will be developing more projects with other groups.
A nature stories quilt was our first project with the Grizzly program. The seniors shared stories about favorite pets, mothers’ gardens and barnyard creatures. These stories were then painted on fabric pieces by our junior Rembrants to be sewn into a quilt to be displayed at TAPS. The current project is about first and or favourite homes. Recently, everyone paired up and each senior described their first or favourite home and the children created images using drawing and collaging. A following visit with them will reverse the process with the seniors constructing an image from the children’s stories. Both parties have greatly enjoyed working together and hanging out. The initial shyness for some quickly developed into trust and curiosity, and the children were great at asking questions.
Another way of documenting other stories is to create recordings. We plan to share these in various ways. Thanks to the Teen Action Committee who have agreed to work with us.
The Creston Museum has been a huge help this summer, as well, with afternoon tea, orchard tours and even a visit to Creston in 1915 with special guest Jean Ramsay Mallandine (a.k.a. museum manager Tammy Hardwick) who acted as our tour guide. Thanks to the crew there, our clients have had an opportunity to see town in a new way, and have participated in many events that they might otherwise be unable to attend.
When one thinks of history, memories of high school classes and dusty textbooks come to mind. History is so much more, its lost centuries still being unearthed: the cultures of long ago (and ones not so long ago) and even what we did yesterday afternoon. History is everything that has happened. We recognize that it is important to record the eyewitness accounts of our past before they are lost to us. Additionally, on an individual level, it has been reported in a wide variety of studies, that reminiscing and sharing stories has a positive benefit to the well-being of all of us as we move along in life.
Happy birthday to Stanley Wedge as he celebrates his 100th birthday in September with family and friends!
Staff changes are a reality, with the mixed feelings of sadness to see someone go, yet happiness for them in their next endeavor. Such is the case with Hans Bringmann, who has become a valued member of the TAPS team and endeared himself to our participants. His talents, skills and personality have added much to our program, and we wish him well in his work at Swan Valley Lodge. We are looking forward to working with our newest staff member and next month we’ll introduce her.
You may recall that we ran the first half of Moving Along Together, a program funded by a Columbia Basin Trust social grant, in the spring. It was designed for people experiencing memory loss and caregivers.
It was an eight-week program at TAPS and designed with participants for the most relevant activities and resources. Everyone evaluated the program as meaningful and helpful in creating a group as well as individual positive experiences and benefits. We will be running a further nine-week program beginning Sept. 17. It is free, and you can contact TAPS for a brochure or for further information.
Rivannah Beddall is a summer student working with the Therapeutic Activation Program for Seniors. For more information on TAPS, run by Valley Community Services, call 250-428-5585.