Older Adults and Youth Connect Through Creativity

Think loneliness is only a private sorrow?

Think again. Study after study has found that social isolation is linked to multiple health problems, particularly among older adults. For this population, loneliness is just as significant a health risk as smoking or obesity.

St. Mary’s Care Center, working in collaboration with TAPIT/new works Ensemble Theater, has developed an innovative response to isolation – fostering social connection through theater. Audiences can experience The Creative Link, the production resulting from this process, on Wednesday, March 11, at 10:00 am in the Rotunda Studio of Madison’s Overture Center at 201 State Street.

That’s when residents from St. Mary’s Care Center, an independent volunteer and five young adults from the Verona Area High School’s Functional Vocational Program for 18-21 Year-Olds will offer a free public performance of The Creative Link.

The Creative Link, a 30-minute performance piece, showcases the work skilled nursing care facility residents and Verona high school students (18-21) generated during a 5-month residency with artists from TAPIT/new works Ensemble Theater.

The Creative Link focuses on the connecting capability of the arts. In the production, young and old participants describe the different ways they come together with others, finding fulfillment in groups and in solitude.

Additional performances of The Creative Link include:

  • An open “dress rehearsal” at St. Mary’s Care Center, 11:00 am Monday, March 9, 3401 Maple Grove Drive, Madison
  • Performance at Verona Area High School, 10:00 an Monday, March 16, 300 Richard Street, Verona

Carmela Mulroe, Activities Director at St. Mary’s Care Center, coordinated all aspects of the project. The script, singing and over-all production were developed through ongoing workshops with TAPIT/new works’ producing artistic directors, Danielle Dresden and Donna Peckett. Visual artist Amy Conover helped participants create a mosaic-themed backdrop for the production.

Krista Shallenberger and Cindy Opsal supervise the students from the Functional Vocational Program at Verona High School to provide the inter-generational connection, while Janet Bollig, a Medical Social Worker for Home Health United, expanded the visual art sessions to reach out to clients still living in their homes.

The residency activities, workshops and performances of The Creative Link are made possible by support from St. Mary’s Foundation.

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