Colourful umbrella art brings Tenterden old and young together

Colourful umbrella art brings Tenterden old and young together

Pupils from Tenterden Primary Federation, St Michael’s Church of England Primary School and Homewood School (part of the Tenterden Schools Trust) have come up with a truly bright idea to help demystify dementia and break down barriers between old and young Tenterden residents.

The three schools have got together with Tenterden Dementia’s Memory Café team to create an intergenerational art project which has transformed dozens of ordinary umbrellas into beautiful coloured art installations for the town.

Over the course of the last two months, teenage members of the wellbeing group at Homewood School and a group of younger pupils from the two primary schools have sat down with residents living with dementia, and their partners, to work on the umbrellas and talk together.

The result has not only been the creation of beautiful artworks, but it has also fostered a better understanding between all three generations and helped to form some genuine friendships, according to Tenterden Junior School Headteacher Samantha Crinnion.

“The feedback from both pupils and older people who have attended the sessions this term has been overwhelmingly positive, and the organisers from Tenterden Dementia and the students don’t want this to stop,” said Mrs Crinnion. “However this is just a self-funded pilot so we really hope we can secure additional funding to continue it next term.”

Mrs Crinnion continued: “Isolation is a big problem for people with dementia and their carers; their opportunities to interact with young people on a regular basis can be very limited or even non-existent. Equally, young children and teenagers may be wary of people with the condition because they don’t understand it and may even fear it. With dementia now touching the lives of so many families it is important that everyone is better informed and supportive to those affected by it.”

The range of 30 brightly painted umbrellas will be displayed in St Mildred’s Church and the windows of some independent shops in Tenterden from 7th July to 20th July. There will also be a display of images from the workshops and feedback from participants in the church, along with other artwork created by Tenterden Schools Trust students for the Sowing and Growing Art Project; this will include willow sculptures, recycled art, printing, paintings and sketches. The core aim of the project is to increase intergenerational connections in the local community, through specific projects involving community groups and by exhibiting artwork from all ages in the town.