“It literally gives me an opportunity, to allow my mind to open up.” -Don K.
Jackie and Don K. are long-time participants in ARTZ programs, and when they’re not making other participants laugh or sharing their incisive observations, they are giving. Jackie and Don have been giving to ARTZ Philadelphia since they first started attending programs in 2018. As Don has said, “What is of paramount importance is that a patient with dementia is an individual who should be encouraged to be as productive mentally, physically, and socially as possible so as to maintain their dignity as a human being.” Don and Jackie give to provide that opportunity to others: for dignity, for intellectual stimulation, for social connection, and for joy.
There are so many ways to give, and Don and Jackie give in more ways than one. As a part of our ARTZ @ Jefferson program, they have mentored a number of medical and health professions students. At ARTZ @ Jeff, Don and Jackie make use of their life experiences to guide a future generation of healthcare providers, helping to build a healthcare system that understands and empathizes with people living with dementia and their care partners on a more personal level.
Jackie K. describes attending ARTZ Programs as being “…like a large book, where many pages were opened.” By giving to ARTZ, they have opened that book for so many others. Their gifts have expanded community, sparked joy, and written many more pages in the book of life for so many. Too often, a dementia diagnosis is viewed as the end of a story, but as Don and Jackie understand, it’s really a new beginning.