Welcome to SPARK!

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, please contact your local SPARK! program site for updates. Many have suspended programs, others are offering virtual experiences and/or drop-off kits. The SPARK! Alliance aims to protect our communities and provide support to our participants any way possible. 

SPARK! is a cultural program for people with early to mid-stage memory loss and their care partners. Programs are designed to keep participants actively engaged in their communities by providing experiences that stimulate conversations, provide peer support and inspire creativity through creative engagement, workshops and programs. SPARK! programs are FREE for families to attend together in a comfortable environment led by specially trained staff and volunteers.

SPARK! programs typically last 60-90 minutes and group sizes are limited, so please pre-register for the programs you plan to attend. Each program is unique and include topics such as cooking, art-making, drama/dance, music/song, poetry and storytelling. SPARK! programs are designed to be offered on various days and times to encourage attendance at multiple locations in your region.

All SPARK! facilitators have been trained by Alzheimer’s professionals and collaborate with community partners to continually enhance programming.

Oh behalf of all SPARK! organizations, we look forward to meeting you soon!

(SPARK! programs are designed for families and care partners. If you are from a facility and are interested in bringing a group, please contact the location nearest you for more information.)

Cultural Programs that Engage and Inspire!

SPARK! is a cultural program for people with early- to mid-stage memory loss and their care partners. SPARK! is located in museums, galleries, nature centers and cultural venues across the United States and continues to expand into new communities.

SPARK! programs welcome care partners to stay actively engaged in their communities while joining peers to experience art, culture, the arts and nature in a comfortable environment with specially trained staff and volunteers.

SPARK! programs typically last 60-90 minutes and group sizes average 10-25 participants. Attending a SPARK! program provides care partners an opportunity to be together IN THE MOMENT. The programs are not reminiscent nor do they rely on recalling memories, but rather focus on observations, conversations and creative experiences. There are a variety of programs to fit every interest and comfort level. From art-making, singing and drama to museum discussions, performances and cooking – SPARK! offers something for everyone.

We look forward to seeing you at a SPARK! program soon!

Our History

The SPARK! Program

SPARK! Is a cultural program for people with memory loss and their partners. The inception of SPARK! began with a grant from The Helen Bader Foundation (now Bader Philanthropies Inc.) in 2009. The Bader Foundation’s Alzheimer’s and Aging program aims to make Wisconsin a leader, not just in how challenges posed by this disease are addressed, but in how growing older and the later stages of life are viewed. Through an emphasis on program development, applied research, and public policy, the Foundation strives to offer hope to families struggling with Alzheimer’s.

SPARK! continues to grow and foster engagement activities using sensory stimulants combined with visual art conversations, music, poetry,  hands-on art making, movement and creative performances.

The SPARK! Alliance

The SPARK! Alliance is a foundation of museums, nature centers and cultural centers committed to the inception, development, facilitation and sustainability of cultural programs for people with memory loss and their care partners.

In 2009, the founding 10 institutions chosen by the Helen Bader Foundation (now, Bader Philanthropies, Inc.) established a forward thinking program of collaboration and cross connected policies and procedures that help new institutions and organizations begin engagement programs that are accessible to families living with Alzheimer’s, dementia and memory loss. These programs focus on life-long learning, providing quality of life experiences while living in the moment and inspiring creative expression through engaging the senses.

The SPARK! Alliance has continued to develop and grow as individual organizations and through collaborative trainings and program development. Hosting an annual engagement training and conference, the SPARK! Alliance works together to cultivate, strengthen and multiply programs centered on the art of memory loss engagement. By providing the infrastructure, tools and resources, this implementation model can be easily adjusted and tailored to organizations of all sizes and designs throughout multiple districts.

The SPARK! Alliance institutions are situated regionally in Wisconsin, Michigan, Minnesota, Colorado and Tennessee. If you are interested in bringing SPARK! to your community, please contact Dawn Koceja at Koceja@mpm.edu.

Find a SPARK! Program

A group of women are seated at a table with trays of art supplies. The women in the front is smiling and choosing objects from a tray.A man in a purple shirt is looking at a butterfly that has landed on his hand while other people are in the background.

SPARK! programs are located throughout Wisconsin, Minnesota, Tennessee and Colorado. Click on the links below to find details on a SPARK! program near you. All SPARK! programs offer unique experiences and schedules, so please consider attending multiple locations.

WISCONSIN 

Brown County

Neville Public Museum, Green Bay

Dodge County

SPARK! of Dodge County, Beaver Dam/Juneau/Horicon

Kenosha County

The Civil War Museum, Kenosha

Manitowoc County

Manitowoc County Historical Society

Rahr-West Art Museum, Manitowoc

Marathon County

Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum, Wausau

Milwaukee County

Jewish Museum Milwaukee, Milwaukee

Milwaukee Public Museum, Milwaukee

Schlitz Audubon Nature Center, Bayside

Saint John’s on the Lake, Milwaukee

Wehr Nature Center, Franklin

Outagamie County

The Building for Kids Children’s Museum, Appleton

The Trout Museum of Art, Appleton

Racine County

Racine Art Museum & RAM’s Wustum Museum, Racine

Sheboygan County

John Michael Kohler Arts Center, Sheboygan

Washington County

Museum of Wisconsin Art, West Bend

Winnebago County

Bergstrom-Mahler Museum of Glass

Paine Art Center and Gardens, Oshkosh

MINNESOTA

Hennepin County

Three Rivers Park District

Olmsted County

History Center at Olmsted County

Winona County

Minnesota Marine Art Museum, Winona

MICHIGAN

Oakland County

SPARK! in White Lake

COLORADO

Denver Area

TENNESSEE

Alzheimer’s Tennessee