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henrybearindependentartsLocal charity Independent Arts have a new recruit in the form of a large cuddly bear called Henry – and he has been working hard with the residents at Cornelia Heights care home and pupils at Dover Park Primary School in Ryde to help weave some wonderful stories and poems.

As part of Independent Arts’ awareness drive, the children at Dover Park Primary School have been learning about the impact of dementia and memory loss.

Community writer Ann Emery explains:

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“I first met Henry Bear in a charity shop, forlorn on the top shelf, a fading ‘REDUCED’ tag pinned on his red tie. He looked like a bear in need of a friend. So I brought him.

“I had studied Creative Arts for People with Dementia at Stirling University and wondered could Henry help other people living in care homes create new stories. I knew already from the  US based ‘Timeslips’ programme, new and creative stories could be written by people living with dementia; could we do this using Henry Bear?

“For me, it has been such a joy to watch people living with dementia contribute through words, actions, looks or song. The stories they create are wonderful, often exotic, always imaginative, fun, sometimes sad and often with unexpected twists!”

Creative writing is an intensely interdependent act. As Henry would say, it’s like baking a cake; take a handful of the known, stir in some current happenings, sprinkle liberally with imagination, mix well and bake carefully.

Kerry Tindall-Guignard project coordinator said:

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“We are so pleased that the pupils and staff at Dover Park School have taken part in this intergeneration project.  It’s vital to us as a charity that we not only educate young people about the impact of living with dementia, but also the creative potential for those living with dementia.

“It’s been so good to break down some common assumptions, and the children have been so open to the creative journey that both the residents and Henry have taken. He’s worked hard in all his lessons at the school, and will even be taking a jaunt with the children on the Isle of Wight Steam railway!”

For further information about the project call Independent Arts on 01983 822437. To catch up with Henry’s other work in care homes visit www.independentarts.org.uk.

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