By Samantha Smith
Youngstown Historical Center of Industry and Labor is providing a program called Sparking Memories for those dealing with memory loss.
Sparking Memories is an interactive program lasting 45 minutes. As stated on the center’s website, the program “provides opportunities for people to make connections between personal experiences, drawing from their long-term memory in this sensory program.”
Marcelle Wilson, museum site manager, explained why the program was originally created.
“I actually attended a conference in Columbus where the discussion was on people, especially children and students who are living on the autism spectrum disorder,” she said. “From that we started a program with the Rich Center for Autism and we’ve worked on developing programs for students with autism. It just expanded into who else can we serve.”
The program offers multiple activity choices for participants during the program, including visiting the Memory Cafe, Museum in a Suitcase and taking guided tours.
The Memory Cafe is a presentation discussing family, work, local history and more. It is designed to promote discussion around similar experiences with each participant.
Museum in a Suitcase is an opportunity that “provides residents with artifacts and photographs that they can discover and handle within a suitcase to help them recall memories and activities associated with the items, and engage in conversations about the past,” as stated on the website.
The guided tours at the museum grant participants the opportunity to explore different exhibits including Life At Home, The Locker Room, Immigrants, Women, and Coal Mining. This is to help trigger memories and permit socialization.
Wilson described what it is like to be able to help those with memory loss.
“We get a lot of people who come in here, and we always see them leave happy,” she said. “They’re happy, they have good memories, they enjoyed the time period, they like the fact that somebody wants to listen to their story.”
It is $50 per program and the museum can have 10 to 20 people in a program, depending on what the participants want to do. The museum also offers to present the program at the skilled nursing facility where up to 50 people can be accommodated. If someone wants to come to the museum for a tour, a senior citizens discount of $6 per person plus free entry for a caregiver is available. The museum is wheelchair accessible.
For more information, questions or to book the program, email [email protected] or visit the historical center’s website.