‘Thanks for the memories, children’ say dementia care home residents
Childhood memories for the young and not-so-young were rekindled when pupils from a Lymington primary school visited a dementia care home in the town.
To prepare for their move to secondary education, 34 pupils from the William Gilpin School at Boldre have been working on an arts project reflecting on their lives so far.
In workshops led by an Art Therapist, they decorated ‘memory boxes’ filled with drawings, photos, toys, ticket stubs and other items associated with school plays, trips and holidays.
Six children showed off their work on a specially organised trip to Colten Care’s Linden House dementia care home.
There were smiles all round as they talked face-to-face with residents and explained the significance of the personal collections they have gathered.
Ticket stub in hand, ten-year-old Charlotte talked about her memories of a stage version of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. She also had a train ticket to London from a trip to the Natural History Museum. Asked about her discussions with residents, Charlotte said: “They asked about everything I had in the box and the fun and memories I’ve had at school.”
Classmate Martha showed drawings, a teddy bear, a shell, pictures of her dog and a ticket from a music festival. Martha said: “I really liked getting everything together and decorating the box. It all stuff that reminds me of when I was younger.”
Mandy Stevens, Activities Organiser at Linden House, said: “This was the first time we have welcomed such young children in as a whole group. After the visit, residents were coming up to me and saying how much they enjoyed it. We wanted the experience to complement our wider focus on gentle memory stimulation. Our home has many memory-themed rooms and garden spaces and talking about times gone by is something that our residents find very therapeutic.”
Jan Bird, Teaching Assistant at William Gilpin, said: “The children came up with some really interesting items to put in their memory boxes. Many of them were things that teachers and other adults involved in school productions and visits might well have forgotten about but seen from the mind’s eye of a child they were memorable.”
The visit was arranged through the Sway-based charity hArt, standing for Hampshire Art for Recreation and Therapy. Art Therapist Sam Lewis said: “This is the first inter-generational project we have done. For the children, the aim was to help their transition to secondary school by reflecting on their time in education so far and bring closure on their final years of primary. For the Linden House residents, it was a further chance to talk about memories of youth, something that can be therapeutic on the dementia journey.”
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