New York, NY
Founded in 2011, Sweet Readers pairs middle school students with adults living with dementia and their care partners. In an intimate group setting, through creative human engagement, they make life-affirming connections. The program serves close to 300 adults annually. Led by a trained facilitator (often a school or art educator), each program is comprised of 5-9 weekly, one-hour sessions. Sessions are held in school classrooms, museums and/or eldercare centers. Together, participants explore and create art, music, poetry and/or movement, using themes such as identity, home, love, community, and adventure. In the process, they discover each other and make lasting bonds.
Year-over-year evaluation shows a consistent impact on young participants with over 90% expressing how the program has taught them to “see the person behind the disease,” empowered them to feel more confident to interact with people living with dementia and better educated them about Alzheimer’s disease, care needs, and overall brain health. Care Partners express that they see their loved one through a “new lens” and all adult participants express the joy they experience by joining in the program activities.
Sweet Readers has collaborated with dozens of community partners including: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Jewish Museum, The New York Historical Society, The Nightingale-Bamford School, Ramaz School, the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, and also a growing community of Geriatric Care Managers.