In American life, we think we are most free when we don't need anybody. Exactly what Alzheimer's represents is absolute dependency - That's what we all need to learn - how deeply we need one another.
- Stanley Hauerwas, Professor of Theological Ethics
Following the light of the sun, we left the Old World.
- Christopher Columbus, Explorer
Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.
- Ralph Waldo Emerson, Essayist
I don't know what your destiny will be, but one thing I know: the only ones among you who will be really happy are those who will have sought and found how to serve.
- Albert Schweitzer, Missionary
Being unwanted, unloved, uncared for, forgotten by everybody, I think that is a much greater hunger, a much greater poverty than the person who has nothing to eat . . .We must find each other.
- Mother Theresa, Saint
You can't stay in your corner of the forest waiting for others to come to you. You have to go to them sometimes.
- A. A. Milne, Author (Winnie the Pooh)
All real living is meeting.
- Martin Buber, Philosopher
They invented hugs to let people know you love them without saying anything.
- Bil Keane, Cartoonist
The deepest principle in human nature is the craving to be appreciated.
- William James, Philosopher
If someone listens, or stretches out a hand, or whispers a kind word of encouragement, or attempts to understand a lonely person, extraordinary things begin to happen.
- Loretta Girzartis, Author
Nothing is more revealing than movement.
- Martha Graham, Dancer
A good traveler is one who does not know where he is going to, and a perfect traveler does not know where he came from.
- Lin Yutang, Writer
Memory Bridge Newsletter
10/10/08 - S.T.R.I.D.E.: A Life Mission
In a small room in Roxbury, Connecticut, a man sits at his desk, hunched over. He has graying hair; he's about the age of seventy. Many may actually recognize him as Arthur Miller, the renowned Pulitzer Prize-winning author. Bewildered and confused, he stares at his picture that appears on the back of a book. This book is none other than The Crucible, a play that he himself had written, 40 years ago. Yet he does not seem to recognize this play, nor does he remember that he is a writer. Why?
The cause is this: Alzheimer's disease. It is also the cause when, five years later, he passes away unaware that he had written one of the greatest American masterpieces studied in high schools and colleges nationwide.
However, Alzheimer's is not restricted to Arthur Miller. It lingers in every region of America, depriving our senior citizens of their cherished memories. In fact, scientists predict that by the year 2050 the number of Alzheimer's cases will quadruple to 50 million.
My goal is to prove them wrong.
I have been volunteering in nursing homes ever since fifth grade. I saw that too often our grandparents are either neglected or placed in a nursing home with little social contact. Consequently, there is no one to help them understand the importance of mental and physical stimulation.
So I started a local nonprofit organization called S.T.R.I.D.E. (Students to Rid Dementia in Elderly) to fill that role and help the elders in our society fight dementia. We do so in three ways: mental, physical, emotional. We hold monthly workshops and publish a monthly newsletter, which includes brain puzzles and trivia and is distributed to residents in Central Ohio nursing homes. Also, we regularly bring in tai-chi and yoga instructors to the nursing homes.
We are also trying to establish the Memory Bridge Initiative, where we pair high school students with dementia patients, in Ohio. Because of the program, the students gain a newfound understanding of dementia, and the elderly also benefit from conversations they have with their new friends. The Memory Bridge Initiative was originally started in Chicago and has gained a lot of success there.
Furthermore, by working with senior citizens, I learned a lot myself. I realized that it makes a difference when we spend those two extra hours every Saturday reading Helen her favorite novel, Jane Eyre. It makes a difference when we hold a seminar on dementia and discover that people are actually interested in learning more. It makes a difference when a person realizes that she does not have to spend her entire day in bed, but now is her time to finally take those dancing lessons she has always wanted to take. It makes a huge difference.
In retrospect, I have been able to turn my idea into reality. However, my job is not over. For me, STRIDE is a life mission that I wish to expand further as I enter college and beyond.