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I Won't Grow Up - Kentucky Found Neverland This Spring

June 21, 2019

There’s much to share as we wrap up the three I Won’t Grow Up Project performances. The joy was palpable as 12 rural nursing homes across Kentucky worked with regional and national artists to devise and perform an original reimagining of the Peter Pan story.  All 12 homes explored themes like happy thoughts, flying, and growing up, fueling the three performances which were staged inside the homes with elders and staff participating.

Read on to gain multiple perspectives on how Wendy’s Neverland came to life in the spring of 2019. TimeSlips Founder Anne Basting shared these thoughts in a recent blog:

“Could we really do this in a nursing home? Could we shift away from “activities” like bingo or balloon toss? Or paint by number or “copy this” art projects? Could we make a project over time that enabled people to grow and learn? That was so interesting that families, neighbors, staff, and volunteers wanted to join the creative process with the Elders? Could we really build a community in a place that people usually avoid like the plague? The answer is yes.”

Where Would You Fly? Fountain Circle Elders Imagine Together from 750Four Productions.

Anne also writes, “Elders were enthusiastically involved. Some of the elders involved were completely non-verbal, but actively participated. It was incredibly moving to have some of them work hard to say their names in the final scene. ‘I am Barbara!’ Several of these were wards of the state, who never receive visitors. Being in the performance was incredibly important to them.”

Angie McAllister, our lead “I Won’t Grow Up” partner at Signature Health Care, shared her thoughts in her blog, “When Creativity Inspires Hope”:

“The magic that is activated among the audience when they start to believe that anything is possible for our Elders is the most beautiful thing I’ve ever witnessed.”

In order to sustain this magic, each site revealed at the end of the performance which show they would produce and perform next. These included Tom Sawyer, the Wizard of Oz, and the story of Abe Lincoln. As part of this Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services (CMS) by a Civil Money Penalty (CMP) Grant through the Kentucky Office of Inspector General, TimeSlips has another year to help coach the facilities to develop their own process of how to shape and mount their next creative event.

Angie went on in her blog to say, “On our last day at Lee County, Judy, an Elder in the wheelchair ballet grabbed my hand to share with me that she was thinking of being the tin man in their next production, The Wizard of Oz. It was then that I heard the Stakeholder who was her partner in the wheelchair ballet say, ‘yes and I will carry your heart.’” 

While the performances of Wendy’s Neverland may have come to a close, the magic is far from over. Inspired by the power of this project, TimeSlips is pursuing grants to support bringing the play to other nursing homes. Research on the impact of the project will be emerging over the next year as data is assessed.