Dementia Unplugged: Artful Insights™ in Partnership with ARTZ Philadelphia
The Dementia Society of America has long supported ARTZ Philadelphia in bringing meaningful, engaging resources and programs to people living with dementia in the Greater Philadelphia region. Our organizations are now partnering in a new way.
On February 22, 2021, “Artful Insights” becomes the newest of Dementia Society’s online offerings in its Dementia Unplugged™ series. It will be ARTZ Philadelphia’s first nationwide program, broadening the scope of our “ARTZ-Connect @ The Museum” programs to include works from exhibitions and museum collections around the country.
ARTZ Philadelphia’s Community Engagement Coordinator Rebecca Granados chatted with Kevin Jameson, Founder and CEO of the Dementia Society of America, about this exciting evolution of our work together.*
Q. Talk a little bit about the Dementia Unplugged™ series.
A. Dementia Unplugged™ programs educate, feed curiosity, and enhance lifelong learning. Dementia Society’s “baseline hope for the world” is that people will learn about themselves and others and better understand each other, while gaining new life perspectives.
Q. Share with us some of your hopes for the expansion of Dementia Unplugged™ in this new, formalized partnership with ARTZ Philadelphia.
A. Conversations about art are vital to our understanding each other, where we come from and where we want to go. They engage us in the moment, outside of time, and (hopefully) leave us wanting more.
Q. Are there other virtual programs similar to Dementia Unplugged™ and if so, how are Dementia Society’s programs different?
A. There are other virtual programs similar to Dementia Unplugged™ programs, but almost all focus specifically on Alzheimer’s Disease. Dementia Society’s mission – like that of ARTZ Philadelphia – focuses more widely on people living with all kinds of dementia, and that is the intention of these new programs. Putting specific labels on programs further stigmatizes the community and may be exclusionary. Language matters. Everyone should feel welcome at these programs, regardless of diagnosis.
Q. Is Covid-19 the impetus for adding more virtual programs to Dementia Unplugged™?
A. Expanding virtual programs on a national level was always a goal, COVID just accelerated the timeline. The Dementia Society exists as a national organization to educate and raise awareness around dementia. The more people the organization reaches, the better. And this was the perfect opportunity to do so. Utilizing the internet and virtual programs also means more access, especially in remote parts of the country where there is not a physically accessible program to attend. But it also means addressing access to technology.
Q. We know with the shift to virtual programming always comes the question and vital discussion about technology and access.
A. There is no getting around the fact that if you cannot participate in programs in-person, you have to use something to connect. Technology has always been a challenge of sorts. In the 19th and early 20th centuries, if you wanted to attend a concert at Carnegie Hall, you traveled by horse, stage coach, train, and eventually via car. This exemplifies the different kinds of technology available at different times in our history and the ongoing evolution of tools we need to get somewhere. Technology is always going to help us get to things faster, better, and more cheaply over time.
There are currently a number of simple tools that exist to help people access technology, but they are not foolproof and these tools do pose hurdles to access. It is our responsibility to understand the needs of our community and make sure we are providing them with the resources and assistance they need to use the technology.
As Rebecca and Kevin ended their conversation, Kevin emphasized his belief that “Life should be lived regardless of dementia.” Or – as we at ARTZ Philadelphia would say –life lived meaningfully and well with dementia.
We hope that you will join us in February as we officially launch Dementia Unplugged: Artful Insights with the Dementia Society of America.
We asked our our program facilitator, Justine Stehle, to share her insights and experiences about ARTZ Philadelphia’s shift from in-person programs to virtual programs. She also talks about ARTZ Philadelphia partnering with the Dementia Society and reaching a national community. Read more on her blog post!
*For the sake of brevity and flow, the interview with Kevin Jameson is paraphrased by the author from the actual words spoken.