Morgantown nursing home puts on play with residents as participants

MORGANTOWN, Ky. – The story of Peter Pan and Neverland is a familiar one to many who have either read the book or watched the Disney animated film.

And it’s that story that inspired the Morgantown Care and Rehabilitation Center to put on its own production, but with a date set years after Wendy’s adventure to meet Peter and Captain Hook.

Second star to the right and straight to Morgantown, you’ll find “Wendy’s Neverland,” where the center’s story begins.

For the first time ever, they’re hosting a play inside the nursing home, but it’s the staff and residents that get to be the stars of the show.

“It’s excitement, it’s amazement, it’s a joy, it’s everything,” said Jennifer Phelps, Quality of Life Director at the rehabilitation center. “We’ve got elders that are expressing so much joy this week. It’s been fantastic.”

The plot of the production focuses on Wendy, except she’s now grown old and resides in an elderly care facility. To pay homage to her life, the staff and elders act out recreations of the stories that Wendy’s told them about Peter and the Lost Boys.

“It’s so touching just seeing them get out of bed and be able to participate and feel like they’re part of something and giving back to their community,” added Karleigh Roby, the care center’s marketing director.

The production was made possible thanks in large part to a grant, as well as a little bit of pixie dust. Then after an entire year of planning, preparation, and hard work, it was finally show time.

“They’ve been participating in it for the past year as far as coming up with the theme and idea of the positive thoughts and the fears,” said Amy Phelps, who is the administrator at Morgantown Care and Rehabilitation Center.

“It was simple stuff like making little crocodiles, to really digging deep and figuring out what we wanted people to believe in us,” Jennifer Phelps added. “Stuff to get the elders out and engaged in a better quality of life.”

As part of the “I Won’t Grow Up” project, the production aims to bring meaning and joy to people in the later stages of life. Based on the expressions on the residents faces, having the opportunity to perform in “Wendy’s Neverland” is accomplishing that mission.

“They have the biggest smiles on their faces,” said Roby. “They’ve had a blast getting it all together.”

Next year, the center is looking at producing at Tom Sawyer-themed show.