A teen author is joining up with the Voices in Motion Choral Society and Greater Victoria Placemaking Network to distribute free copies of her book I Remember to teach about the empowering effects of community choirs for those with dementia.
I Remember by Priscila Kumar is about an elderly woman named Margaret who is in the severe stages of dementia. Margaret’s daughter Rose becomes increasingly concerned with Margaret’s mental health as she finds it hard to do the activities she used to do and spends more time alone.
Rose takes her to a community choir where she learns the power of music as a tool in coping with her sadness and bringing back memories.
The community choir in the novel is based on a Victoria-based intergenerational choir, Voices in Motion, for people with memory loss, caregivers, students and community members. Kumar volunteered in the choir for two years prior to writing the book.
“The experience Margaret has of remembering is one that ViM choir members often experience as they share stories about the songs they are learning and about their lives,” said choir member Andrea Warner. “They rediscover who they are when the focus is not on the losses that come with dementia, but rather on the strengths that remain– that allow them to laugh, sing and develop friendships with one another.”
|I Remember is not only written but also illustrated by Priscila Kumar. (Image supplied by Voices in Motion Choral Society))
The choir also allows high school students, such as Kumar, to actively engage with people with dementia. Kumar herself had never known anyone with dementia before and joined after a friend invited her. Her experience was so moving that she felt compelled to write this book, originally as a school project.
“We had to choose a cause that we were passionate about and make a project about how we would gently shape the world with it, and I was passionate about Voices in Motion,” Kumar said.
“I learned that it’s never too late to start learning music and I think it’s so much more impactful than we realize. It’s been scientifically proven to help our mental health and I think it’s a very powerful tool we can use to help each other,” she said in an interview on the Voices in Motion website.
Kumar wrote the book when she was in Grade 9 and is now a St. Andrew’s High School graduate.
“Little free libraries are a fantastic way to share books and also vital information to members of the community. I’m always excited when they can help support and promote local authors and share beautiful stories,” said Teale Bondaroff, volunteer lead for the Pocket Places Project.
To date, the Pocket Places Project has 672 little free libraries in the region and delivered almost 85,000 books.
I Remember is also available for purchase at voicesinmotionchoirs.org/i-remember.