Students and seniors team up to exercise their imagination

By Hayley Ferguson
April 11, 2019 - 5:43pm Updated: April 11, 2019 - 7:16pm


Medicine Hat, AB -- A group in Medicine Hat is getting together to prove that just because you can’t remember, doesn’t mean you can’t imagine.

Every week, 8 seniors living with dementia at South Country Village are visited by a group of students from Medicine Hat High.

The seniors and the students are teaming up on the Imagination Alive program where they work together to create stories based off photos they are given.

“What was interesting, they would come tell us things. Make up stories that were so far fetched. But they were so good. They really were.” Said Sheila who is a resident.

According to the program manager with Learn, Sharon Mickey, not all the stories are made up.

“Some are when a resident will look at a picture, it would actually trigger a memory for them. And then the story would be around that story.”

Another resident Norm has been happy to share his life.

“Just to be able to tell stories about years ago and students love them. They were a little shocked, we went back 20-30 years ago.”

After watching her own parents battle with dementia, Learn’s executive director Deborah Forbes, said she was inspired to do more research on how to improve these seniors lives and how to make them feel connected to others.

“Often people don’t know what to say with somebody with dementia and so after you get beyond how are you, it’s hard”

“The idea behind the program is that generations learn from one another and the more that we bring them together, the less scary other generations seem.” Mickey added.

Not only has the program been a success in getting the residents imagination going again, but it has been able to bring together these generations.

Grade 12 student Melanie Friesen admitted she was nervous before the program started but said that the conversation flowed instantly.

“I feel like sometimes people who are older get put in these homes and teenagers like us we don’t always get put in the margins, people underestimate us. But we’re really not that different and it’s nice to bond with people like that and it’s just a good thing to remember we are all the same in here.”

Her classmate Roan Foshaug had similar feelings.

“I think for me, I’ve learned that really just because someone might not have the same mental capability as you doesn’t mean they aren’t as strong as you.”

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