By SHERIDAN ROY
There is a movement taking place in the town of Southington. It is a movement of understanding, of challenging perspectives, of creating space for others and letting them know there is support in the community.
Dementia Friendly Southington is making strides and growing quickly in numbers. What began rippling the waters in May of 2018 is “now ready for our close up,” said LiveWell director of community development at Katy Bannister.
Formerly the Alzheimer’s Resource Center in Plantsville, LiveWell is leading the way in the state of Connecticut on the nationwide initiative, “Dementia Friendly America.”
Dementia Friendly Southington will open up to the community on Feb. 12 for a kick-off event—an informational performance by people living with dementia called “To Whom I May Concern.” In the storyteller’s theater program, audience members can hear from the speakers what day-to-day life is like, and get an idea of the many challenges they face doing seemingly menial tasks such as going to the post office or grocery store.
“Over the course of the 30 minutes or so, three to five of these folks will tell their stories from their perspectives,” said Bannister. “They really work together to take a lot of their own thoughts and feelings and get them down to a script to deliver to the public. And, the whole thing about LiveWell is partnering with people living with dementia, so we can challenge and change people’s beliefs and expectations.”
Bannister said the team of “Dementia Friends” in Southington, who have participated in the one-hour informational session and earned that title, has been connecting with many town organizations in order to begin “sector-based training,” including the Town Manager, the Superintendent of Schools, the Southington Chamber of Commerce, the Southington Youth Council and more.
“Things are happening. What needs to happen now is, if this town is going to do this, we need to keep raising awareness with these important sectors,” said Bannister. “We are ready to dive into this sector-based training and help build capacity in this way.”
The performance, “To Whom I May Concern,” is open to everyone, not just Dementia Friends. It will be held at the First Congregational Church at 37 Main St. from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Audience members will learn steps they can each personally take to make a difference in the community, as well as see examples of other Dementia Friendly communities.
“There’s nothing like hearing from people who are going through the experience living with this disease themselves to get an idea of what it’s like,” said Bannister. “In the context of a Dementia Friendly Southington, we need to work with people living with dementia to create that.”
To RSVP, call (860) 628-9000 or visit www.dementiafriendsct.org. Goodwill donations will be accepted at the door. To learn more, or to find out how to become a Dementia Friend, visit www.dementiafriendsct.org/Southington.