On this page, we describe the steps involved for a To Whom I May Concern® project.
When we talk about a typical “To Whom I May Concern® project,” we mean the process to form a Sharing Group of people with dementia, gather stories and work with the group to create a script, and put on a performance before invited community members.
A project usually takes 8-10 weeks to complete.
The decision to start a To Whom I May Concern® project in your community means ensuring you have the commitment and resources necessary (including a trained Facilitator and Scribe), the means to start a Sharing Group of people in the early stages of dementia, and a keen desire to place the voices of people with dementia at the center of your work.
If your community has an existing support, advocacy, or social group of people in the early stages of dementia, the catalyst for a To Whom I May Concern® project may come from the group’s expressed wish to make a difference by educating community members on the experience of living with dementia.
If you have an existing support, advocacy, or social group, invite group members to share their stories of their lived experience of dementia. Tell the group about To Whom I May Concern®, and consider doing a group viewing of the video This Is My Voice.
If no group currently exists, you will invite individuals living with dementia to participate in the project. You will need to provide a flyer to inform individuals about To Whom I May Concern®, and if alternate mediums such as community newsletters are available, consider advertising or articles. Some organizations list new groups forming for To Whom I May Concern® in their upcoming programs guide.
TWIMC Sharing Group Storytelling
The Sharing Group meets with the Facilitator and Scribe for four weekly meetings. For more on the role of these individuals and resources needed, click here. During these meetings, the Facilitator invites Sharing Group members to talk about their experiences of living with dementia. In the Facilitator training, we talk about active listening skills, the themes that emerge from shared stories, how to record the stories as they are told, and how the stories fit into the script.
Write Draft of Script
In the facilitator training, we provide trainees with a template for the script and teach Facilitators and Scribes how to write the script, along with the review process with the Sharing Group.
Start Planning the Performance
Not all Sharing Groups decide to hold a public performance of the script. Sometimes just having the chance to share their stories and be heard within the group is enough. However, if a performance is the intended outcome, planning should start six weeks out. Choose your date and venue. Talk with the group about who will be invited and discuss possible venues. Plan how the event will be promoted.
Review and Revise the Script
While the Facilitator and Scribe write the script in a way that honors the integrity and completeness of the stories shared by group members, the draft of the script must be reviewed by Sharing Group members before moving forward. The review is typically done by group members taking turns reading the script out loud. In the Facilitator Training, we share writing tips and what to listen for during the script review. The Facilitator and Scribe will revise the script until the Sharing Group agrees that the script is complete.
Usually two or three rehearsals are enough. These can be done during Sharing Group meetings leading up to the performance.
The Facilitator and Scribe, with the Sharing Group, hold a dress rehearsal in the venue, with the proper seating, complete with microphones. Don’t leave anything to chance!
To Whom I May Concern® Performance
This step is fairly obvious…but be sure to have invited a person to introduce the group and set the context for the performance. You will also need a facilitator for the Talk Back session that takes place immediately after the performance. The Talk Back is an important component of the program, and is a facilitated dialogue between Sharing Group members and the audience.
Note that based on the success of the first performance, the Sharing Group may express a desire to take their show “on the road” and find additional venues where they can perform their script.
Celebrations can take the form of a luncheon or dinner with Sharing Group members and their care partners. Be sure to hold the celebration shortly after the performance so that the group has a chance to decompress and share their thoughts on what just happened.