Feet to The Fire Writing Class Sparks Creativity in ECH Residents

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Feet to The Fire Writing Class Sparks Creativity in ECH Residents

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When residents gather at the Feet to the Fire Writers’ Workshops® at Episcopal Church Home retirement community in Louisville, you can rest assured they will have questions. Their stories are filled with endless questions about what they have heard and seen, and the history they have witnessed over a lifetime. They have a story to share and feel they are the only ones who can write it.

Very often their stories prompt curiosity and even more questions amongst the group, though the class etiquette states that questions wait until the end. Many times, the ones that spring to mind are answered once the full story is revealed.

“They gather each Monday as a community of writers who want to find their voice and improve their craft,” says Chad Ballard, the ECH Life Enrichment Specialist who helped start the group in 2015.

ECH’s partnerships with organizations like Feet to the Fire give residents opportunities to make essential connections with the community. The custom-designed workshops complement aging adults' personal activity schedules and provide an opportunity for lifelong learning and excellent emotional wellness experiences through writing.

ECH-FEET-TO-THE-FIRE1Through themed prompts and motivation, ECH residents “find their feet” and are able to share in an intimate, salon-style workshop. They use guided prompts to spark the expressive writing process, and they get the support and structure to make their time together worthwhile and enriching.

“Writing is one of the most expressive art forms, and it’s a wonderful way to access stories,” says Angela Burton, founder of Feet to the Fire Writers’ Workshops and a skilled writing instructor. “The workshops ignite memories and engage aging adults in active writing and reminiscing.”

In the three years since they began, the close-knit circle of Feet to the Fire writers have welcomed new members easily into their fold. It’s a wonderful way to get to know their fellow ECH residents differently. In fact, for many, it’s the place where they get to know their neighbors the best. After all, writing can be a terrific social activity as well.

“We all have so many rich, amazing stories and they don’t stop coming. Of course they are interesting, and these stories matter beyond recording family history—this is our shared history.”

Their stories are precious to them and their families, but they are relevant beyond the family circle. This initiative is one that resonates with older adults and their desire to preserve a piece of living history.

“One of the most important benefits of the program is the opportunity for these older adults to write their own stories with unique prompts and inspiration to reflect on the moments that mattered in their lives,” Burton adds.

“We all have so many rich, amazing stories and they don’t stop coming. Of course they are interesting, and these stories matter beyond recording family history—this is our shared history.”

At times the prompts spark a story about their search for personal identity, to help them gain insight into the past, or to heal from a traumatic experience. They might have secrets to share, or maybe they want to study or understand certain family situations.

“Sometimes I have a hard time with the prompts, but it pushes me to work through it,” says resident Frances King. Her story for the week was a personal remembrance of Dec. 7, 1941 — the attack on Pearl Harbor.

ECH-FEET-TO-THE-FIRE2Whatever their motivations, writers get a second chance to create another version of their lives. Years and years later their perception may have changed, and they get to explore that through writing.

“I have more stories to tell than I realized,” says resident Don Baker. “When I hear others tell their stories, I often remember things from my childhood that I want to write. My daughter is enjoying my collection of stories and she wants to compile them into a family history.”

Feet to the Fire is just one of many enriching activities for residents of Episcopal Church Home retirement community. To see more, click here. And to get more information about living here or schedule a tour, click here. We look forward to answering your questions and sharing our own story with you.


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Kristin Davenport
January 04, 2019
Kristin Davenport is the Director of Communications for Episcopal Retirement Services (ERS). Kristin leads ERS’s efforts to share stories that delight and inspire through social media, online content, annual reports, magazines, newsletters, public relations, and events. Kristin earned her BFA in graphic design from Wittenberg University. She joined ERS after a 25-year career as a visual journalist and creative director in Cincinnati. Kristin is passionate about making Cincinnati a dementia-inclusive city. She is a Lead SAIDO Learning Supporter and a member of the ‘Refresh Your Soul’ conference planning team at ERS. Kristin and her husband Alex, live in Lebanon, Ohio with their 2 daughters. She also serves as a Trustee and the President of the Lebanon Food Pantry and is a board member for ArtScape Lebanon.

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