The Sunday Magazine

The intergenerational choir bringing teens and people with Alzheimer's together

Alisa Siegel's documentary "The Person I've Become" tells the moving story of a remarkable intergenerational choir for teenagers and people with Alzheimer's. Both benefit from the relationships that form.
Julissa (in red) and Leitha (in grey sweater) sing together in the Intergenerational Choir. (Bruce Wray, Alzheimer Society London and Middlesex)

In jeans and sweatshirts, every Thursday afternoon, two dozen of them step off the bus.

Teenagers from the local high school, ready for something none of them ever skip.

It's their favourite event of the week.

Choir rehearsal — where the singers range in age from 14 to 92.

Julissa Litterick and Leitha. (Bruce Wray, Alzheimer Society London and Middlesex)

The Intergenerational Choir was the brainchild of the people at the Alzheimer Society London and Middlesex.

They turned to Medway High School — with its excellent music program — for strong young voices. And to the Sisters of St. Joseph, just down the road, for their magnificent chapel. 

Teenagers, people with Alzheimer's and nuns. 

A remarkable choir was born.

Alisa Siegel's documentary "The Person I've Become" takes us into a Thursday afternoon rehearsal.

Sister Mary Diesbourg (in black jacket at right). (Bruce Wray, Alzheimer Society London and Middlesex)
Jim Beacom (Bruce Wray, Alzheimer Society London and Middlesex)
L-R: Naoimh Sylvester and Harry Reynolds get ready to sing at choir rehearsal. (Alisa Siegel)
Kathy McNaughton conducts the Intergenerational Choir. (Bruce Wray, Alzheimer Society London and Middlesex)
Student holds hands with one of the Sisters of St. Joseph. (Bruce Wray, Alzheimer Society London and Middlesex)
Julissa and Leitha (Bruce Wray, Alzheimer Society London and Middlesex)
Left to right: Jim (second from left), Naoimh Sylvester, Harry (Bruce Wray, Alzheimer Society London and Middlesex)
Documentary producer Alisa Siegel recording the Intergenerational Choir rehearsal. (Bruce Wray, Alzheimer Society London and Middlesex)

Shortly after the documentary first aired in April 2016, Leitha died. Her young choir friend, Julissa Litterick, is now studying Neuroscience and Psychology at the University of Guelph. She hopes to learn more about Alzheimer's and continue to work with people who live with it. And in October, the Alzheimers Society London Middlesex launched a second Intergenerational Choir. Good luck to them.

Click 'listen' above to hear the documentary. 

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