At Clark Street Community School (CSCS), a high school in Wisconsin, students are teaming up with the Music & Memory program, using technology (iPods) and music, to help people with Alzheimer’s disease (AD).
Kate Kowalski, the Education Resource Manager at the Wisconsin Alzheimer’s Institute (WIA), is partnering with CSCS on the student project. Kowalski explains her organization’s affiliation with CSCS, Kowalski said, “Experts and volunteers, from the Wisconsin Alzheimer’s Institute and the Wisconsin Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center have been excited to share their knowledge, expertise, and passion around the study of dementia, and offer a glimpse into the types of careers available in the field of Alzheimer’s and dementia. It is our sincere hope that by educating young people about dementia, we are helping to facilitate a dialogue around dementia that will result in increased awareness, acceptance, and reduced stigma towards those impacted.”
Experts Teach CSCS Students About Music and the Brain
Kowalski helped the students link up with experts—such as Sara Berman, MD, PhD student—to learn about how a brain with AD differs from a normal healthy brain, and what the symptoms, diagnosis and available treatment options are for a person with Alzheimer’s disease. Berman provided human brains for students to examine.
The students were also afforded an opportunity to observe an autopsy, performed at a UW Neuropathology Conference (at the morgue). At the conference, Dr. Salamat taught medical students about the brain of recently deceased patients, as he performed the autopsies. He encouraged the students to ask questions and he quizzed the Clark Street students on the physiology (function) of the brain.
Julie Hyland (the director at the Music & Memory Student Program) oversees coordination of the student (those who make the iPod playlists for people with dementia) volunteers. “Providing information on the disease in order to understand the physical changes in the brain, and how that transforms a person’s ability to communicate, is key to empathy and understanding, which in turn reduces stigma and bias,” says Hyland. Hyland is one of the facilitators of the Music & Memory Program at Clark Street Community School.
“These partnerships really embody the spirit and intention of Clark Street Community School”, says Heather Messer, a lead instructor of the Music & Memory seminar. “Reciprocal partnerships with community organizations that bring students, families and experts together to work toward common goals, in individualized ways, that better our world. That’s transformative education. That’s the kind of disruption we need.
If you are a high school student, who wants to get involved in volunteering to help those with Alzheimer’s, contact your school guidance counselor. You can also get in touch with the Music for Memories program by CLICKING HERE to learn more about how students can volunteer to create iPod lists and use technology to help people with AD, and their family members.