Lifelong Learning Through the Arts

indexImage credit: Gary Porter

Studies have shown that lifelong learning offers increased knowledge and critical thinking skills, improved health and well-being, longer life span, greater likelihood of community and civic engagement, increased creativity and greater self-fulfillment. Engagement in the arts fosters good health and life satisfaction. Combine the two and you have The Milwaukee Creative Trust.

The Creative Trust is a collaboration between local long-term care homes, the University of Wisconsin (UWM) Peck School of the Arts and local arts and culture institutions. Their shared goal is to “foster life-long learning through the arts”. To do this they share ideas, opportunities and create innovative, intergenerational arts programming. According to an article in the Journal Sentinel “The Creative Trust is one reason Milwaukee is seen as a hotspot for creative aging initiatives”.

Current programs at the Creative Trust include:

  • Let’s Talk Arts. An interactive workshop inspired by current arts/culture projects at UWM.
  • Arts Partner Fellowship Program. Older and younger artists pair to complete a new project.
  • The Flourish Fest: Celebrating Creativity as We Age. Showcasing Creative Trust efforts during the month of May.
  • Arts at Home. A pilot initiative to bring creative engagement to people living in their homes.
  • TimeSlips. UWM students facilitate creative storytelling sessions.

Luther Manor located in Wauwatosa, Wisconsin moved to a person-centred care model 12 years ago in an attempt to pursue new activities that would more fully engage their clients with dementia. Person-centred care values the client as a unique individual with unique life experiences, needs and strengths. Today, the arts are thriving at Luther Manor thanks to some of the Creative Trust programs.

One of the creative programs offered at Luther Manor is TimeSlips Storytelling. The Creative Trust describes the program as opening “storytelling to everyone by replacing the pressure to remember with the freedom to imagine”. UWM students facilitate the storytelling sessions. The sessions are “prompted by an inspiring image or question, the storytelling sessions are vibrant and playful. This year, student facilitators can select images from local art museums to prompt stories”. The final week of classes wraps up with a ‘Celebration of Storytelling’ designed by the student facilitator.

Check out the Luther Manor website for inspiring videos that illustrate the powerful benefits of creative aging.

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