Village Improv for Alzheimer’s Club
VIA ~ An improv club for Calgarian’s living with Alzheimer’s Disease and dementia. A place where no idea is a bad idea and every member is celebrated as the creative (and hilarious) person they are!
We're not trying to teach improv to Calgarians living with Alzheimer's Disease or related dementia, rather we try to brighten their day via improv.
We create a feeling of belonging where they are recognized, valued, and validated via improv.
We seek to provide an antidote for isolation, anxiety, and anger via improv.
Since 2012 we have partnered with the Alzheimer’s Society of Calgary to bring the VIA club to their program members. We lead weekly sessions with groups of about a dozen at a time, keeping the groups small so there’s room for everyone’s participation. The program has been embraced by the participants beyond our wildest hopes, and quickly word began to spread to other service providers and health centres. We consistently receive calls and emails from other centres inquiring about bringing the VIA club to their members. Up till now we haven’t had the funds available to make that happen.
That’s where you (hopefully) come in.
We love our club members and are deeply touched that they have welcomed us into their lives.
We also know there are another 13,000+ Calgarians living with Dementia or Alzheimer’s Disease. Thousands of our neighbours who’ve led rich lives and need to remain a part of Calgary’s cultural fabric.
So, it’s time we take the VIA program out and about and connect with folks across the city.
In the fall of 2018 we will tour our team of improvisers and facilitators to care facilities and day programs to offer:
1. Hour long improv sessions to small groups
2. Participatory improv performances for large groups.
It’s our hope that these tour stops will become just the first of many visits.
Who Will it Benefit?
Over the week-long tour we will be able to include 120 people with Alzheimer’s Disease in the small group sessions (10 sessions of 12 participants), and an additional 400-500 folks in the participatory performances (10 performances with 40-50 audience members).
We’ve been able to track some of the specific impacts joining a VIA program has on our members. Following our improv sessions our members and their caregivers report lowered levels of anxiety, anger, and a decreased sense of isolation.
We think the deepest benefits of these programs can’t really be tracked though; it’s inherent in the laughter and connection that happens between members when they’re revelling in the new realities they’ve created together.
In addition to the benefits the members receive we can also see the good vibes ripple out to our members’ caregivers and family members. One of the most touching moments we’ve had during a VIA session was in talking to one of the caregivers afterwards. She told us that this was the hour she looked forward to most all week because it was the time where she could just be friends with the club members, she could laugh with them, she didn’t have to be “on-duty”.
Our friends at the Alzheimer’s Society report that for every person diagnosed with Dementia another 10-12 people are directly affected.
The VIA program cares for those folks too.