By George Haber
Arie R. of Glen Head is one of the participants in a unique therapy program whose paintings will be displayed in an exhibit March 19 at the Sid Jacobson JCC’s annual “Auction for Excellence,” at the Glen Oaks Club in Old Westbury.
Arie and about two dozen other Long Island residents have been participating in the “mneme” [pronounced “nemma”] therapy program at the JCC in East Hills.
The program helps develop creativity and intellectual ability via artistic expression among adults in their 40s to 90s who suffer from one of a number of forms of dementia, stemming from strokes, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.
The program, the only one on Long Island to implement this innovative form of therapy, was created by a Florida artist who founded a nonprofit agency in 2000 that promotes the program throughout the country.
“Mneme therapy uses the arts in an instructional way to stimulate the brain’s neuroplasticity,” said Connie Wasserman, LCSW, associate executive director of the JCC. “The goal is to find new ways to stimulate the brain to adapt and to rebuild lost functions.”
Like most of the program participants in the mneme therapy program, a part of the JCC’s Adult Day Care Program, Arie and another local participant, Mary M. of Jericho, have had no formal training in art, yet they were able to create attractive paintings after a trained mneme instructor worked with them on their painting.
The mneme therapy comprises an hour a day as part of the JCC Adult Day Program, which serves participants, most between age 60 and 90. A companion program, the Youth Onset program, focuses on individuals from their 30s to 50s. The program, which is open to the community, meets daily from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Some two dozen paintings by the mneme therapy artists are on display in the lobby of the Sid Jacobson JCC. The watercolor works depict landscape scenes, which artists based on photos.
“The exercises performed in connection with the training stimulate the creative part of the individual’s brain,” said the JCC’s Wasserman.
For further information on the JCC Adult Day Care program and mneme therapy, she invited interested community members to contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or 516-4843-1545, ext. 135.