The Simple Things – “Poetry and Music in motion” in a trip to the Dotsa Bitove Wellness Academy

Here is another post from Kevin Lopes our media and communications student, and an extremely uplifting and engaging one and one at that:

Last week Jane, Martha and I were lucky enough to have Maureen Coyle from the Dotsa Bitove Wellness Academy come by our office, at the CNIB Centre, to tell us about the work that is being done at the Academy.

By creating an engaging social environment where people with mild or moderate dementia can interact and express their creative abilities, the program hopes to make its participants happier through meaningful social interactions. Today I was able to sit in for an hour to take in the atmosphere of this incredible program, and I learned that it’s the simple things that make a huge difference in people’s lives.

As I walked into the main room I noticed a group of about 10 people sitting down together at a large table. I was handed a nametag, told to decorate it any way I wanted to, and then sat down with the group.

As I settled in, I learned that the group was creating a poem. Each person had chosen a word (words included cycling, a pretty woman, and whisky, which caused laughter across the whole table). The words were then put into a hat and drawn one by one and together, as a group, we were asked to create a poem.

An Academy member led the activity, encouraging everyone, participants, their caregivers and myself to participate by adding a line to the poem. Together we created a lovely poem with contributions from everyone at the table. Laughter would erupt throughout the conversation, and smiles would appear after hearing someone contribute another beautiful line to the collective poem. After finishing our poem together, the group got ready for our next activity, a dancing exercise.

As a group we all moved into a smaller room with a large open space and chairs set up in a circle. We were asked to sit down or stand, and participate as we wanted to. An instructor turned on music and began to lead us in a light dance. As I worked up a sweat following the dance routine I noticed laughter, smiles, and spontaneity. Participants would get up and dance with each other while others followed the instructor’s movements. One older lady was smiling from ear to ear the whole time as she followed the instructor’s movements, and you could sense just how much it meant to her. As we ended the dancing segment of the program, Academy members started setting up lunch for participants and their care givers. As I left the Academy I was impressed with how inclusive the program was as well as the atmosphere.

Later in the day as I was enjoying the weather and the scenery of the garden at the CNIB Centre I was greeted by the group from Academy who were on a walk through the garden. As they walked through the garden, they were smiling and enjoying each other’s company. Laughter and conversation could be heard. I began to understand what the Dotsa Bitove Wellness Academy offers people: connectedness and meaningful social interactions, the simple things everyone needs. Participating in an activity in a group setting, the laughter, and the conversations come together to make a difference and participants have reported being happier since joining the Academy. Happiness through meaningful social interactions as simple as a conversation or laughter is what the Dotsa Bitove Wellness Academy is providing to its participants. It’s these simple things that go a long way.

Alzheimer’s Society of York Region organizes with Mosaic Home Care Services the First Link® Memory Café on the last Tuesday of every month, starting on September 30th. Similar to the Dotsa Bitove Wellness Academy, the Café provides people with early Alzheimer’s disease and/or mild dementia a social environment to talk, listen and get information. If you would like to join us at our Café and learn more about Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, or the Dotsa Bitove Wellness Academy please contact us to register at our Thornhill location at 905-597-7000. Or contact Trevor from Alzheimer Society York Region at 888-414-5550.

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