Cohort 
2020

Karen Meenan

Theater & Radio Producer

To reduce the impact of dementia, we need to involve those living with dementia in co-creating enjoyable creative ageing projects

Current Work

Karen works with people living with dementia and their carers, developing theater and radio broadcasts using memory triggers from the 1950s and 1960s.

Personal Hero

Radio Presenter, Marian Finucane

Words of Strength

Sparking Memories – Sharing Stories

Vision

To reduce the impact of dementia, Karen believes we need to involve those living with dementia in co-creating enjoyable creative aging projects. Placing the person living with dementia at the center and sparking memories through sensory stimuli, you can co-create new work.

Strategy

Karen is producing and presenting a dementia-inclusive weekly series on community radio, sparking memories from the 1950s and 60s. She founded a dementia-inclusive theatre company “Making Hay Theatre” in 2017 and to date they’ve co-created three plays from inter-generational dementia-inclusive workshops.

Motivation

55,000 people in Ireland have dementia, and 500,000 families are affected. “Making Hay Theatre” and “Reminiscence on the Radio” are dementia-inclusive creative activities. They spark memories through songs, news, and poetry to share stories about life in the 1950s and 60s.

Education & Experience

Karen is a self-employed entrepreneur. She has worked as a brand manager, marketing manager, and sales manager with BWG Foods before opening her own SPAR shop in Dublin. She has been operating a successful retail and training consultancy since 2001. Her interest in dementia was sparked when her mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in 2012. As a founder member of the Forget-Me-Nots choir, she witnessed the power of dementia-inclusive creative aging. She returned to college to attain a BA (Hons) Drama and founded “Making Hay Theatre” in 2017 and has co-created three plays through dementia-inclusive inter-generational workshops; “We Were All Young Once” (2017), “A Play with ME in it” (2018), and “The Lost in Time Bookshop” (2020). She is currently a presenter, researcher, and producer of “Reminiscence on the Radio” a dementia-inclusive weekly series on Near FM. “Reminiscence on the Radio” is a weekly series on Near FM Community Radio which features songs, stories, news items, and soundtracks and invites Karen’s guests to share their special poems on air. Making Hay Theatre is an intergenerational theatre group which meets in-person and virtually to co-create new dementia-inclusive plays. Three new plays “We Were All Young Once,” “A Play with ME in it,” and “The Lost in Time Bookshop” have already been produced and performed to a dementia-inclusive audience. She also has Dip Marketing and Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) Radio Training.

Global Brain Health Institute (GBHI)
current
Atlantic Fellow for Equity in Brain Health
Drama
2017
BA (Hons)

Awards & Honors

Community Radio Ireland
Social Benefit (for "Voyage Around My Brain" and "Reminiscence on the Radio")
2020
Achievement Award, Gold

Podcasts

Voyage Around My Brain is a new series where Karen Meenan meets dementia experts to discuss Brain Health.

Reminiscence on the Radio features Karen talking with poets, writers and singers, including people living with dementia and caregivers - the point is nobody could tell the difference, stories are all stories on the radio.

Near FM

Voyage Around My Brain

Voyage Around My Brain

November 1, 2020
Near FM

Reminiscence on the Radio

Reminiscence on the Radio

July 29, 2020