Sherry Dupuis and Pia Kontos
- Instruments acoustiques
- Instruments rock
- Appareils numériques
- 5 à 12 ans
- 13 à 18 ans
Writing, recording, and producing the song/video took 8-months.
- Associations communautaires
- Services sociaux
Let’s Reimagine : Challenging the Stigma of Dementia Through Collaborative Song-Writing
“There’s a human connection, despite what some people like to think… Despite age or disability, there’s a humanness amongst all of us if you look for it. And that’s what we’re trying to do with this song.” – Wally Cox (Reimagining Dementia coalition member)
The Coalition : Reimagining Dementia : A Creative Coalition for Justice is an international group of dementia activists and allies, including people living with dementia, family members, professionals, artists, researchers, policy makers and others – all of whom share a vision of life, care and support that promotes inclusion, relationality, creativity, joy and the possibility of growth for everyone living with dementia.
The Project : Let’s Reimagine is a co-created song and video project that aims to challenge stigma, and show how people living with dementia can engage, connect and live a vibrant creative life in community with others. The song and video development process was facilitated entirely online by two-time Grammy award winning musician Simon Law, who also produced the song in collaboration with over 700 musicians, song-writers, people living with dementia, family care partners, and other members of the coalition from different parts of the world.
Guiding Principles :
Let’s Reimagine was grounded in two key participatory approaches :
1. Liberatory Arts : Liberatory arts uses the arts for social justice purposes to challenge assumptions, expose harmful practices and social relations, and imagine and effect new possibilities for addressing inequities and enhancing quality of life. Liberatory arts are participatory, inclusive of diverse (and all) voices, creative, dialogical, transformative, consciousness-raising, de-centring, communicative, and evaluative.
2. Authentic Partnerships : Authentic partnerships recognizes the capacities of people living with dementia and seeks to work in partnership with diverse stakeholders, including people living with dementia, to challenge stigma and promote inclusion and social justice for all people with dementia. Co-created with people living with dementia, the approach articulates what is essential to support and sustain authentic collaborative decision-making that is inclusive of people living with dementia (see the Authentic Partnership handout for more information).
Co-Creating Let’s Reimagine : To make this project truly inclusive of diverse perspectives, and to center the voices of people living with dementia, the song-writing and production process included the following :
- A series of online arts-based and playful activities with coalition members aimed at identifying key messages to be reflected in the song. Drawing on the diverse talents of coalition members, we worked in small groups, using breakout rooms to discuss and creatively represent how they “re-imagine dementia” by asking : “what do you want the world to know about dementia?” “What does re-imagining dementia mean or look like for you?”
- For instance, group members represented their discussions through poems, spoken word, art, and songs. You can try this activity with any group by asking them « What do you want the world to know about .…? », « What do you need to live well ? » etc. Then ask them to come up with images and words that reflect their answers to the questions. These images can be pulled together into a collaborative collage or you could work with the group to create a poem out of the words they come up with. The collage and/or poem can then be the starting point for a song.
- Recording interviews with coalition members living with dementia to explore their experiences of stigma which were directly included in the song.
- Collaboratively analyzing discussions and outputs produced during those activities/interviews which were used to inspired the lyric creation and the development of musical riffs for the song.
- Working with people living with dementia and other members of the coalition to audio-record different parts of the song, prioritizing the voices of people living with dementia as soloists for the verses of the song.
- Inviting coalition members, organizations, and broader community partners from around the world to share photos, video clips, and art representing what it means to live well with dementia that were then used for a music video to accompany the song.
Supports : The Coalition utilized the following strategies to support the collaborative song-writing process :
- Forming a smaller song-writing committee (approximately 7 people) responsible for consolidating the ideas formed at the larger member gatherings, and drawing on these to create initial song lyrics. In an iterative process, ideas were shared with the larger group for feedback and used to help to develop the lyrics, and this process continued until everyone was happy with the lyrics.
- Drawing on the diverse talents of members to creatively explore messages important to share in the song.
- Drawing on Coalition member networks to bring in more perspectives, inputs and voices (i.e., reaching out to community choirs and musicians from different countries to sing and play parts of the song ; inviting members to share photos and videos of themselves, friends and/or family members living well with dementia ; partnering with therapeutic recreationists, life enrichment staff, and music therapists in day programs, residential aged care settings, and other programs to support people living with dementia in learning and singing parts of the song, dancing to the song, and/or creating artwork or placards that challenge the stigma associated with dementia and showcase the creativity of people living with dementia). To see examples please refer to the gallery.
- Supporting members to learn about and navigate Zoom, and use technology to record parts of the song (i.e., hosting learning sessions on Zoom to practice the song and how to record it on different devices ; creating and emailing a handout to members with instructions on how to record vocals ; having 1:1 Zoom meetings with members who needed extra support in the recording process).
Considerations : Remembering the purpose and goal of this project while collaborating with over 700 people was challenging at times. For example, we found that having input from so many people generated many more ideas than could be reflected in the song, which made it difficult to ensure that all voices were included. We found it was important to remind ourselves of our authentic partnership philosophy and to engage in critical reflection about our priorities and objectives. With this reflection we re-affirmed the importance of centring the voices of people living with dementia in both the creation and recording of the song, which was pivotal to our decision to extend the project timeline to ensure that people living with dementia were featured as soloists in the song. You can hear about what it was like to be involved in this process for one of our soloists living with dementia by watching the short video clip « Inspiring Hope Through Collaborative Engagement ». Other members of our team share their experiences in the full « Launch Party » video. You can hear the song Let’s Reimagine and watch the video by clicking on the link to « Let’s Reimagine » below.
Broadening Engagement : To inspire broader global social engagement, we included resources on our website (i.e., song lyrics and audio files) for anyone who wanted to create their own versions of the song and/or video. For example, Reimaging Dementia Malaysia created their own lyrics and music video from the audio tracks provided on our website. We invite others to create their own or new versions of the song and share those with us. Please refer to the lyric sheet and audio tracks provided on this page.
Quotes From The Project :
- « Everyone can thrive if we believe it and are bold enough to try it »
- « I use music to chase away the brain fog on those days where I can’t really think straight. […] I do a lot of reimagining, especially on rough days, and it was great and a wonderful opportunity to do this. »
- « What’s important is to […] go forward and be loved and love, and I think that this kind of thing shows that. »
- « I hope that it brings about freedom, and education for those who have a stereotypical view of what dementia looks like and how it can be reassuring to turn it around to see how people can live happily […]; they can still express themselves and they can still have fun. »
- « Music is such a powerful thing ; it’s just one of those things that goes into your soul […] and I wish more people would do this – discover things that they can enjoy, but that also brings them peace and calm. »