Philadelphia University + Thomas Jefferson University

HeART Stories

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Photo | Raymond Holman, Jr. 

HeART Stories: Building Empathy Through the Arts is a two-year collaborative project between Jefferson, Theater of Witness and ARTZ Philadelphia, in which people living with dementia and their care partners become mentors to Jefferson health professions students. All participants engage in a creative process of empathy-building, storytelling and relationship-forming that will culminate in an original theater performance work.

Through ARTZ Philadelphia, approximately 80 people living with dementia and care partners will become mentors to students by engaging in a series of intimate conversations generated by arts-based experiences and punctuated by facilitated learning sessions. The course is designed to engage students in first understanding people as people and only second as patients.

Working with Theater of Witness, which produces testimonial performances, students will practice deep listening and develop autobiographic and partner pieces within the classroom setting. Teya Sepinuck, founder and artistic director, will lead listening circles of students who will engage in sharing their own stories through a variety of creative processes. A select group will work with Sepinuck over an extended period of time to develop a full Theater of Witness production about what it means to become a healer.

HeART Stories: Building Empathy Through the Arts is open to all Jefferson students, but space is limited. To register, view the schedule below and pick the group you would like to join, then email Megan Voeller, Director of Humanities, megan.voeller@jefferson.edu, with your request. 

Note: Sessions take place on Jefferson’s Center City campus unless otherwise indicated.

Group 1

Sat., Feb. 3, 9:30-10:30 a.m. – Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens, 1020 South Street
Sat., Feb. 10, 9:30-10:30 a.m.
Sat., Feb. 17, 9:30-10:30 a.m. – Magic Gardens
Sat., Feb. 24, 10:30-11:30 a.m.
Sat., Mar. 3, 9:30-11:00 a.m.
Pick One: Sun., Mar. 4, 9 a.m.-12 p.m. or 1-4 p.m.; Sat., Mar. 10, 1-4 p.m.
Sat., Mar. 24, 9:30-10:30 a.m. – Magic Gardens
Sat., Mar. 31, 9:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.
Sat., Apr. 7, 10 a.m.-12 p.m.
Sat., Apr. 14, 10 a.m.-12 p.m.

Group 2

Sat., Feb. 3, 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. – Meet at 10:30 at Jefferson for shuttle to Woodmere Art Museum, 9201 Germantown Ave.; shuttle returns to Jefferson at 1:30 p.m. 

Sat., Feb. 10, 3-4 p.m.
Sat., Feb. 17, 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. – Meet at 10:30 at Jefferson for shuttle to Woodmere Art Museum; shuttle returns to Jefferson at 1:30 p.m. 
Sat., Feb. 24, 12:30-1:30 p.m.
Sat., Mar. 3, 12:30-2:00 p.m.
Pick One: Sat., Mar. 3, 9 a.m.-12 p.m.; Sun., Mar. 4, 9 a.m.-12 p.m.; Sun., Mar. 4, 1-4 p.m.; or Sat., Mar. 10, 1-4 p.m.
Sat., Mar. 24, 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. – Meet at 10:30 at Jefferson for shuttle to Woodmere Museum; shuttle returns to Jefferson at 1:30 p.m. 
Sat., Mar. 31, 1:30-4:30 p.m.
Sat., Apr. 7, 1-3 p.m.
Sat., Apr. 14, 1-3 p.m.

Group 3

Tues., Feb. 6, 11 a.m.-12 p.m. – The Barnes Foundation, 2025 Benjamin Franklin Parkway
Tues., Feb. 13, 9-10 a.m.
Tues., Feb. 20, 11 a.m.-12 p.m.
Tues., Mar. 6, 11 a.m.-12 p.m. – The Barnes Foundation
Pick One: Sat., Mar. 3, 9 a.m.-12 p.m.; Sun., Mar. 4, 9 a.m.-12 p.m.; Sun., Mar. 4, 1-4 p.m.; Sat., Mar. 10, 1-4 p.m.
Tues., Mar. 13, 11 a.m.-12:30 p.m.
Tues., Mar. 20, 11 a.m.-12 p.m.
Tues., Apr. 3, 9 a.m.-12 p.m.
Tues., Apr. 10, 10 a.m.-12 p.m.
Tues., Apr. 17, 10 a.m.-12 p.m.

Group 4

Tues., Feb. 6, 1-2 p.m. – St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church, 19 South 10th Street
Tues., Feb. 13, 3-4 p.m.
Tues., Feb. 20, 1-2 p.m.
Tues., Mar. 6, 1-2:30 p.m.
Pick One: Sat., Mar. 3, 9 a.m.-12 p.m.; Sun., Mar. 4, 9 a.m.-12 p.m.; Sun., Mar. 4, 1-4 p.m.; Sat., Mar. 10, 1-4 p.m.
Tues., Mar. 13, 1-2 p.m. – St. Stephen’s
Tues., Mar. 20, 1-2 p.m.
Tues., Apr. 3, 1-4 p.m.
Tues., Apr. 10, 1-3 p.m.
Tues., Apr. 17, 1-3 p.m. 

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Major support for HeART Stories: Building Empathy Through the Arts has been provided by The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage