An idea cast forth into the world can cause ripples that continue to touch many lives. My life was changed in 2009 when Helen Ramon, program officer at the Helen Bader Foundation, initiated a call to Wisconsin museums to develop programs for older adults. For me, a Woodson Art Museum educator, that “challenge” led to the opportunity to learn about an innovative program for those with dementia and their care partners called “Meet Me at MoMA” at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Ideas, methods, and best practices based on MoMA’s program subsequently were implemented at eleven Wisconsin museums. These museums formed an alliance and named their respective programs “SPARK!”. Each museum tailored the program to fit the needs of its visitors and its specific environment.
The Woodson Art Museum’s SPARK! program uses a multisensory approach, incorporating visual observation, touch, taste, smell, and sound – offering full, rich in-the-gallery and hands-on art-making experiences for participants and their care partners. During the development and piloting of the SPARK! program, I observed increased communication, social interaction, and positive behavior as participants engaged with the arts. The artworks became springboards for participants to share lively conversations, songs, and heartfelt stories. I was completely intrigued with the program’s outcomes. These experiences and observations led me to pursue a master’s degree in art therapy from Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College in Indiana.
Today, I am sixteen weeks away from the completion of my graduate studies. I look back at the message that activated a ripple of change and growth in my life, and I’m thankful for where it has led. I’m now a part of a larger community that is knowledgeable and trained in human development, psychology, spiritual and multicultural beliefs, and the power of art. My cohort will graduate in December and go out into the world, much like ripples in a pond, sharing with others the power of art as a vehicle for change within our communities, others, and ourselves.
What has inspired you and how have your ideas created ripples and new opportunities?
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