Memory Bridge began in 2003 with a question: What do people with dementia never forget?  This question led to our first project, a collaboration with the Smithsonian’s Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage and the Library of Congress to encourage and support the participation of veterans with dementia in the WWII Veterans Oral History Project.

In 2005, we piloted the Chicago Memory Bridge Initiative, a 10-week school program that bridged economically at-risk teens with elders with dementia in ongoing one-to-one relationships. The success of the program, which was observed by city and state officials, led to the program being adopted as one of the principal educational initiatives of the Illinois Department of Human Services.

 

In 2006, the Chicago Memory Bridge Initiative was awarded the innovative Program of the year by the Illinois Council on Long-Term Care.

 

In 2010, Memory Bridge Initiative received a grant from the US Department of Education to continue this program. To date, Memory Bridge has connected over 4,000 teenagers to elders with dementia in one-to-one relationships.

In 2011, the Memory Bridge school initiative received Indiana University’s “Advancement of Peace and Education: Creative Paths to Peace” Award 

Memory Bridge’s work bridging students and elders with dementia brought us into sustained contact with thousands of people living with dementia in many ethnic, social and economic demographics, residing in both public supported and private pay residential communities. We soon realized that the most common denominator of people with dementia, irrespective of their cultural and economic background, was emotional isolation. We also learned that young people delighted in befriending people with dementia. The relationships offered the teens an opportunity to shed their everyday school personae and find a new sense of purpose in caring for those who are vulnerable.

 

Both lessons—the isolation of elders and the enthusiasm of young people—decisively influenced Memory Bridge’s growth. An urgent human need had been disclosed. We would invite, educate, and enable a kind of communication that is intrinsically healing and for which there is no medicinal or technological shortcut.

We decided we would learn all we can from people with dementia and those who care for them about the art of communication on the other side of dementia.

The learning continues. What began as a question—What do people with dementia never forget?—has become a learning journey in communication and community with no end in sight.

Memory Bridge was established as a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization in 2004.

Our Evolution

2006 Innovative Program of the Year Award

The Memory Bridge Initiative Received the Innovative Program of the Year from the Illinois Council on Longterm Care

2009 Memory & Movement Conference

Memory Bridge is featured at Indiana University’s Conference on Memory and Movement

2010 Chicago Tribune Feature

Memory Bridge Initiative featured on the front page of the Chicago Tribune, Chicago, Illinois

2011 Creative Paths to Peace Award

Memory Bridge awarded Indiana University’s Advancement of Peace and Education: Creative Paths to Peace Award

2012 Synergy Award

Memory Bridge awarded Synergy Award by Florida Hospice and Palliative Care Award

2013 Michael Verde Featured Speaker

Michael is a featured presenter with Naomi Feil, “The Memory Bridge: Creating Meaningful Communication with People with Alzheimer’s disease,” Wheeling, West Virginia

2013 Memory Bridge Training Implemented

Sandhill Cove and Water’s Edge begins implementing the Memory Bridge Training program on a bi-annual basis, Palm City, Florida

2014 Mellon International Research Training Grant

Michael Verde recieves with Dr. Erna Alant the Mellon International Research Training (MIRT) grant for the development of a graduate course in empathetic communication

2014 Healing the Dis-ease of Dementia

Memory Bridge facilitates first training, “Healing the Dis-ease of Dementia,” in Pretoria, South Africa at the University of Pretoria

2015 Dementia Partnership Project Symposium

Michael is the Keynote speaker, Dementia Partnership Project Symposium, Alzheimer’s Association Western Australia

2015 Perspectives in Education Publication

Publication in international journal, Perspectives in Education: “Developing Empathetic Communication Among Teachers and Learners…”

2015 Training for St. Christopher’s Hospice

Memory Bridge facilitates its first training for St. Christopher’s Hospice, London, England

2017 Western Australia Speaking Tour

Alzheimer’s WA hosts Memory Bridge presentations throughout Western Australia

2017 Heard Podcast Feature

Memory Bridge featured on Heard Podcast, Los Angeles, California

2018 Memory Bridge Five-Year Reunion

Memory Bridge hosts the Memory Bridge Five-Year Reunion of its Summer Retreat graduates, Bloomington, Indiana

2018 Sunnyview Retirement Community Implements Training

Sunnyview Retirement Community begins implementing the Memory Bridge Training program on a bi-annual basis, Cupertino, California

2019 Hubbard Hill Retirement Community Implements Memory Bridge Training

Hubbard Hill Retirement Community begins implementing the Memory Bridge Training program on a bi-annual basis, Elkhart, Indiana

2019 St. Christopher’s Hospice Implements Training

St. Christopher’s Hospice begins implementing the Memory Bridge Training program on a bi-annual basis, London, England

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