Seattle Parks expands programs for special populations with 2015 Park District funding

Though 2015 is considered a ramp-up year for the Park District, (2016 being the first year that the District collects property taxes) Seattle Parks and Recreation has already implemented two new exciting community programs.

Using ramp-year funding, Seattle Parks was able to hire a half-time Recreation Specialist to officially launch its dementia-friendly programming citywide. Cayce Cheairs started with Seattle Parks in January and has since led excursions and classes for seniors all over the city.

Seattle Parks launched dementia-friendly programming in 2015 with the support of Park District funds.

“I am excited that our city is undergoing a transformation to become a dementia-friendly and inclusive community and I’m thrilled that our city government is onboard.” Cheairs said. “Our Parks and Recreation department is unique in the nation with the launch of dementia-friendly recreation, and we already are serving as a model to other cities. I’m excited to have the opportunity to work with and collaborate with inspiring and fearless community members and mutually-supportive and creative community organizations. I’m especially excited for opportunities to connect with and learn from our community members living with memory loss.”

So far this year, dementia-friendly recreation participants have had the opportunity to participate in Arts in the Park watercolor painting at Golden Gardens, guided fitness walks and an annual talent show among other things. Cheairs said her goal for the remainder of the year is to connect with Seattle senior centers, develop partnerships and spread the word about these programs in Seattle’s communities.

“In order to best serve ‘all citizens’ as our Parks and Recreation mission proposes, we are adjusting and expanding our programs so that all community members indeed have ‘safe and welcoming opportunities to play, learn, contemplate, and build community,’ including members living with memory loss,” Cheairs said. “This, we believe, enriches the whole community.”

Specialized Programs added an extra week of summer camp using 2015 Park District ramp-up funds.

In addition to dementia-friendly recreation, Seattle Parks and Recreation is able to add an additional week of youth overnight summer camp this year for its Specialized Programs unit, which serves youth with disabilities. The extra week of camp will allow the department to serve 60 more campers.

In 2013, one of the most popular comments on a departmental community survey was a request for more camp opportunities. Parents told Specialized Programs leaders that they are grateful to have more opportunities for their children.

“Camp is a magical place for the campers because it allows them to have the same summer experience as their peers,” Recreation Leader Kyle Bywater said. “It is a place where parents feel safe to send their children because staff are fully trained. Campers get to make new friends, sing songs, play games, do crafts and enjoy entertainment every day. Camp is also special for parents as it gives them some respite. Some parents have never left their children with anyone overnight, so it gives them nights to relax as well.”

For more information on the Park District, please visit http://www.seattle.gov/seattle-park-district.

Seattle Parks launches dementia-friendly recreation in 2015

Dementia-friendly recreation participants and supporters dine at China Harbor on Tuesday, Jan. 27.

 

Greenwood Senior Center staff member Cayce Cheairs stood before dozens of Seattle seniors at Seattle Parks and Recreation’s dementia-friendly programming “Momentia!” kickoff on Tuesday, Jan. 27, and asked them what they wished for in the coming year.

Seattle Parks Recreation Specialist Mari Becker, left

More longs walks, replied one man. More dancing, said a woman. More time with the people here in this room, said another.

“Can you feel the hope in the room?” Cheairs asked the crowd.

Seattle Parks created a pilot program for dementia-friendly recreation in 2014 in response to the growing number of community members living with memory loss and the firm belief that people living with memory loss should remain a vital part of our community. This January marked the program’s official launch.

“We’re taking something that’s traditionally only been offered through medical facilities and we’re looking at it differently,” said Cheryl Brown, a member of Seattle Parks Lifelong Recreation staff.

Dementia-friendly recreation participants and supporters dance at the 2015 “Momentia!” event kickoff.

Seattle Parks is one of the few Parks and Recreation departments in the country that has taken the discussion of memory loss from simple informational classes to embracing opportunities for connection, creativity, giving back and being active. Last year, “Momentia” participants joined in snow shoeing field trips, volunteering at the Rainier Beach Urban Farm and Wetlands and Cherry Street Food Bank, overnight camp at West Seattle’s Camp Long, watercolor painting, walks at the Japanese Garden and Woodland Park Zoo, Mariners’ games and more.

With the official launch of the program in 2015, Seattle Parks is working with a variety of local partners to offer more engaging programs.

The “Momentia” kickoff celebration was held at Lake Union’s China Harbor Restaurant and included an improv theater experience from Taproot Theatre Company, a musical performance from the Greenwood Senior Center’s Gathering Place program members and karaoke.

“Momentia is all about a celebration of life,” Lifelong Recreation Specialist Mari Becker said. “It’s about people saying we’re still here, and we have gifts to give the community.”

Becker spearheaded Seattle Parks’ dementia-friendly recreation effort. She said she wanted to change the story surrounding memory loss from one of fear to one of hope.

“Mari has a kind heart and a bright spirit,” dementia-friendly recreation participant Paul Padilla said. “This program has made our journey so much easier to travel.”

As Seattle Parks starts programming this year, the activities will be mainly geared toward persons living with Early Stage Memory Loss. Friends and family are also welcome to get involved and staff can help determine which programs might be a good fit within Seattle Parks’ offerings and among the other options available in the community.

For more information on dementia-friendly recreation, please visit http://www.seattle.gov/parks/Seniors/dementiafriendlyrecreation.htm.

Parks to host Momentia! event to support dementia-friendly community

On Tuesday, Jan. 27, Seattle Parks and Recreation invites persons living with dementia, family, friends and all who support a dementia-friendly community to the 2015 Momentia! New Year Celebration at China Harbor restaurant.

The Momentia! New Year Celebration will offer refreshments, drinks, musical entertainment, dancing and karaoke. To register, call Cheryl Brown, Seattle Parks and Recreation, at 206-386-9106 before Jan. 23. Tickets cost $12.

Seattle Parks and Recreation piloted dementia-friendly recreation in 2014 in response to the growing number of community members living with memory loss and the firm belief that people living with memory loss should remain a vital part of our community.

With the official launch of the program in 2015, we are working with a variety of local partners to offer engaging programs like watercolor painting in the park, walks at the zoo, volunteering at the food bank, and more. As we get started, our programs are mainly geared toward persons living with Early Stage Memory Loss. Friends and family are also welcome to get involved. We’re glad to help determine which programs might be a good fit, within our own offerings and among the other options available in the community.

There will be limited van transportation to the event available from Greenwood Senior Center and Rainier Community Center. Reserve a seat when you register for the event. Sponsors include Greenwood Senior Center, Full Life Care and CareForce.

For more information on dementia-friendly recreation, please visit http://www.seattle.gov/parks/Seniors/dementiafriendlyrecreation.htm.