UAB Arts in Medicine's Melissa Turnage is at CARES!

UAB Arts in Medicine Comes to CARES!

 CLICK on the photo above to watch UAB Arts and Medicine's Melissa Turnage, far right, lead a Dance and Movement session at CARES 


In rhythm to a cheerful jazz tune, Jeff Ash lifts a green pocket square with his left hand: forward and back, forward and back, while rocking forward on his left foot. In a moment, he’ll do the same thing on the right side - and then it will be on to another movement activity, another song.

The music and dance are courtesy of UAB’s Arts in Medicine program, which is now providing arts enrichment twice weekly at CJFS CARES. CARES, which stands for Caring for Adults through Respite, Enrichment and Socialization, is our respite program for families affected by Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s disease and other memory and movement disorders.

If it’s Mondays, it’s Dance and Movement teacher Melissa Turnage; if it’s Tuesdays, it’s Visual Arts teacher Kim McKenzie. “Music and exercise have been core activities at CARES since Day One, but Melissa brings them together in a way that is uniquely engaging, creative and fun,” says Pam Leonard, CARES Program Director. “It’s the same with visual arts – we’ve always done them, but Kim is helping our participants find new ways to express themselves – and self-expression is something that can be difficult and frustrating for dementia patients.”

CJFS CARES’ partnership with UAB Arts in Medicine is being funded through a grant from the Susan Mott Webb Charitable Trust. “We’re grateful to be able to bring this innovative program from UAB to CARES,” says CJFS Executive Director Lauren Schwartz. “Working with these professional artists is inspiring creativity in everyone at CARES - volunteers and staff as well as participants.” 

The UAB Arts in Medicine program serves children and adult patients throughout UAB’s vast healthcare network, and it also works in community-based programs such as CARES.

“My aim is to have the participants move their bodies in a way that enhances well-being and health – and also to have fun and come together in a sense of community,” Turnage says of her Monday dance program at CARES. “I want them to stretch a little bit, to use their creativity, to use their playfulness.”

For more information about CJFS CARES, email Program Director Pam Leonard, or call 205.879.3438. If you’re interested in volunteering at CARES, email Assistant Program Director Lise Grace, or call 205.410.1958.

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