By Kate Hunger
School of Health Professions students created a program that brought the joy of dance to people with dementia and their caregivers.
The idea for the Tango Together project grew out of the interest of some Physical Therapy students to develop a service project for a Community Service Learning grant, said the project’s student leader Laura Gandy, a first-year Physical Therapy student.
“We thought it would be cool to create a dance program to take to nursing homes, memory care centers and senior care centers to help people with dementia and their caregivers connect and stay active,” she said.
The group implemented the four-week dance program in November at the memory care unit at Morningside at Menger Springs in Boerne, and in February at Jefferson Outreach in San Antonio. Participants at each site received four Saturday sessions that offered a variety of dance styles, including merengue, swing and a tango-inspired dance choreographed by PT student and fellow program student leader Kevin Hamilton, Gandy said. Students modified the dances to accommodate both standing and seated participants.
Other student leaders were Occupational Therapy students Ale Medina and Patty Prado and Nursing student Annette Santos. School of Nursing Professor Carole White, Ph.D., RN, FAAN, and Sara Masoud, community outreach coordinator for the Caring for the Caregiver program, served as project mentors, Gandy said.
Students of physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech-language pathology, nursing, and medicine volunteered with the project and brought the lens of their own areas of study to the project.