English Department works with CORE to Assist Local Elders in Storytelling
- Author: Madeline Kinser
- Author: Friday, September 6th, 2019
This year, the Companions of Respected Elders (CORE) organization is taking a big step at WKU. In partnership with Signature Healthcare of Bowling Green, CORE will be participating in a new program called TimeSlips in addition to their monthly visits with local elders. Cameron Fontes, an English major from Louisville, is co-president of this organization, and Professor Jessica Folk is the secondary faculty sponsor.
TimeSlips is a program founded by MacArthur Fellow Dr. Anne Basting and consists of artists and caregivers who bring creativity and meaning to people in their later years of life. This year WKU’s CORE organization is participating in the TimeSlips pilot program called NextGen. Through this program, members of CORE will be trained in TimeSlips methods, specifically in how to assist elders in storytelling.
“The cool thing about TimeSlips is how it takes away the pressure of being ‘correct,’” said Professor Folk. “As the elders work with the facilitators to create a story, they are not under pressure to remember facts or get things right. Instead they are prompted to imagine what the story could be, using their creative skills to fashion a story from a photo, a feeling, a sound, etc.”
Cameron Fontes appreciates how TimeSlips benefits everyone in the program.
“TimeSlips empowers everyone involved with caring for elders - from caretakers and nurses to the elders themselves - to be creative simply by giving what they can to the world that no one else can give,” said Fontes. “This is especially important when working with elders with Alzheimer’s or dementia because it allows them to create stories in the moment without feeling the guilt of not being able to remember things that have happened in their past.”
While CORE and TimeSlips seek members with different backgrounds and interests, the storytelling aspect of the program makes it especially suited for English majors. English majors understand the importance of storytelling, especially through the different ways that a story can be told and interpreted. Professor Folk believes that the TimeSlips program has opportunities for English majors of all concentrations.
“[English] students are already stretching their creative muscles and studying stories in ways that remind us of the importance of storytelling in the world,” said Professor Folk. “It stands to reason, that an English major has a vested interest in becoming part of that storytelling process, helping to facilitate the stories these elders would tell in a TimeSlips session.”
Students are not only assisting elders in coming up with and telling a story, but they also publish the stories on the program’s website. It is important to present the stories in an interesting and professional way, which makes creative and professional writing skills incredibly important to the program. TimeSlips gives everyone the opportunity to use their strengths to make a difference and bring joy to someone’s day.
The date of the first informational meeting of the year will be set soon, but Fontes and Professor Folk encourage interested students to get involved regardless of their area of study.