Story and photos by Marika Lee
Reporting for West Seattle Blog
The campers later sang along about the importance of hugs and took part in nature-inspired craftmaking and storytelling tailored for people with dementia/memory loss.
Camp Momentia is an annual event that has been growing in attendance since it started four years ago. About 70 people attended the two-day camp this year.
“Momentia as a movement is really about lifting up people living with memory loss as the experts of their own experience and looking to them for what they want to have happen in the community and what is important to them,” explained Cayce Cheairs (above right), who coordinated the camp as a Dementia-friendly Recreation Specialist for Seattle Parks.
The UW students researched and met with an advisory board of people with memory loss and caregivers to determine what to include in their musical revue, titled “Just a Moment.”
Cheairs said Camp Momentia is the container for everything Momentia does in the community to empower and ensure people with dementia/memory loss remain connected and engaged in their communities. She said the camp definitely saw the impact of the recently created West Seattle “Momentia in My Neighborhood” group.
“There are a lot of folks here from West Seattle. In previous years, we really didn’t have many folks from West Seattle coming to the camp. It feels like that process has really spread the movement and who is now participating and involved,” Cheairs said, adding that Providence Mount St. Vincent’s involvement in the group has also helped.
West Seattle resident Kathy Daley got involved by taking her mother to talent shows that featured her artwork.
“Everyone gets to be a person here. There isn’t just one thing that works,” Cheairs said.
Mary Firebaugh of West Seattle said she has been around with city-wide Momentia since the beginning. “It has always been fun. Even the word ‘Momentia’ was to make dementia and memory loss sound more exciting and positive, which is a sort of a questionable goal. But there is no reason we can’t get together and celebrate life and do things.”
She and Daley are working on other Momentia events in West Seattle, such as musical performances and park walks.
In addition to the proven health benefits for bringing people with memory loss into nature, Cheairs said Momentia presents events such as the camp to combat the narrative that people with memory loss should be hidden away.
“People with dementia have things to teach the rest of us about living in the moment and being creative and being engaged,” Cheairs said.