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“This is Michigan” Campaign Features Anne Mondro’s Memory, Aging & Expressive Arts

Stamps Professor Anne Mondro's work with people living with memory loss is featured as part of U-M's This is Michigan campaign.

For more than 15 years, Anne Mondro, an associate professor at the University of Michigan Stamps School of Art & Design, has been creating and facilitating art programs for people living with dementia in Michigan.

According to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, Michigan is currently home to 240,000 individuals with Alzheimer’s dementia—a term used to describe those in the dementia stage of the continuum. This number is expected to increase as the baby boom generation continues to age.

A crisis on a global scale, the disease also comes with a set of deep societal stigmatizations—myths that Mondro has been working to change in order to encourage quality of life, care and dignity for people living with memory loss.

Mondro's class, Memory, Aging & Expressive Arts, pairs students with local community members living with memory loss. Students create and facilitate an idea for a project based on the needs, abilities and interests of the participants, then work together to build an expressive project.

Mondro asserts that it’s important for individuals with memory loss to participate in activities that help them sustain their citizenship in joyful, meaningful ways: gardening, going for a walk, listening to music, making art.

“We focus on creating experiences that embrace being in the moment,” Mondro said. “Just because someone has memory loss doesn’t mean that you can’t enjoy life—that’s what really matters. That’s what we teach in this class.”

Video Produced by Shannon Kohlitz, Michigan Media. Photos by Eric Bronson, Michigan Photography.