The Austin Bell Ringers began in summer 1994 while Linda was an Activity Director (AD) in an Assisted Living Home and James was a local musician. Linda began taking piano lessons from James and her rediscovery of music sparked an idea. James made audio tapes of his music and Linda used her own brass bells — having the residents ring along with her — to create a new activity for the residents in her facility. It was a success, especially when the residents performed for their families at a covered-dish supper.
A set of tone bells was found and James and Linda developed their first Christmas program incorporating choreography and costumes with the bells. James made a rehearsal tape for the show and Linda rehearsed the residents using the tapes. At this time, they developed a technique for the residents to tone out two Christmas carols: “Jingle Bells” and “Silent Night.” This helped divide the practice and performance time into two degrees of difficulty; allowing those with more musical background to feel that the activity was not too facile. James used his lunch break from his job to come to rehearsals, dress rehearsals and for the Christmas extravaganza. This show far surpassed all expectations of the residents, the staff and the families.
Two months later, Linda resigned her position with the Assisted Living Home and contracted with them and other homes to bring more taped music and provide bell ringing activities. After they determined that the activity generated more excitement with live music, James also resigned from his day job.
They began contracting to facilities in January 1995. Over the years, they have seen residents and homes benefit in numerous ways. They believe that with proper training and appropriate music this valid technique could be used by any facilitator, conductor or both.
In 1998 Austin Bell Ringers proudly received a grant from the Institute for Quality Improvement in Long Term Care at Southwest Texas State University School of Health Professionals. Thanks to the grant, the Bell Ringers added nine more homes. At the conclusion of the six-month grant a teaching manual, an audio music tape, and a teaching video tape were published.
Over the years, they have continued to work in homes and with wonderful residents and staff learning more and more. In March 2002 they changed their name to Joy & Action. Why? Because that is what they saw in the homes that had the program! When told of the name change, one resident held up her right hand with the red bell in it and said, “Joy.” Then she held up her left hand with the blue bell in it and said “Action.” She then said, “I like that because that is exactly what this is!”
Linda and James presented their new program at the NAAP Convention in Kansas City and were fortunate to meet many Activity Professionals throughout the country. The workshop was well accepted and furthered many more conventions, conferences and workshops. Joy and Action is now being used in homes in over 30 states and in Canada.
Joy & Action has assembled all the necessary tools for a facility to offer this invigorating program to its residents. This starter kit includes piano music by James with his great beat, a Primer (teaching manual), and bells. These kits can be ordered via the Products & Services area of our site.