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‘Telestories’ set to engage creativity through art initiative

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WAUSAU, Wis. (WAOW) -- The Wisconsin Arts Board is partnering with the Aging and Disability Resource Center of Central Wisconsin and the Hmong American Center in the area to connect artists to utilize their talents with older residents.

The project is called Timeslips or Telestories. Selected artists from the area will be trained and paid to connect with up to 20 older adults over the phone while taking time to listen and learn about their individual stories.

It's an eight week project where the older adults will receive scheduled calls from artists once a week to work on some form of dialogue and interpretation through creative art.

This could be a range of expressions like music, poetry, paintings, or any other creative individualized efforts.

Erin Wells, Community Resources Manager with the Aging and Disability Resource Center of Central Wisconsin, said this initiative is a way for participants to tap into their creative sides while also getting rid of the feeling of disconnect or isolation as a result of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

"Often we talk about our physical health and emotional health," Wells said. "I think tapping into your creative side allows more of that whole human side which is needed now more than ever."

She said participants don't have to be artistic, but they'll just need to have an open mind and the ability to try something that may be new to them.

The project is also based largely around inclusivity. There is no real age limit, but participants or those interested are able to self-define "older" as it pertains to whoever wants to be involved.

Despite a self-definition, there's a specific focus on finding those who may feel isolated or need more human interaction.

Everyone has a story to tell especially later in life based off of experiences as the years go on.

The artists involved in this project will also undergo special training to accommodate any learning curves.

"They don't have to worry about if the elders have a hard time hearing, or if they have dementia or things like that," said Hmong American Center's See Xiong. "The artists will be trained to work with the elders depending on what they are and their situation."

Xiong added that the differences in individuals will be a highlight of the project as it will reflect in the uniqueness of each story conveyed through art at the end of the 8 week period.

Participants must be from Lincoln, Langlade, Marathon, and or Wood Counties.

No costs or materials needed. All participants need is a phone.

Sign up will end on Monday April 12, but the ADRC is willing to grant an extension through the week to those who are interested in participating.

Sign ups can be done through calling the ADRC of Central Wisconsin at 715-261-6070 or 1-888-486-9545. Or by emailing erin.wells@adrc-cw.org.

Rashad Williams

News 9 Reporter

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