News from AFA Chapters/Teen Activists
New AFA Teens Chapters 2013-2014 School Year
  • AFA Teens at Calhoon High School, Merrick, NY

  • AFA Teens chapter at GEM Caring Teens, Kill Devil Hills, NC

  • AFA Teens at McLean High School - Vienna, V a.

  • AFA Teens chapter at Nashville Jack & Jill of America, Nashville, TN

  • AFA Teens chapter at Progress Unlimited, Inc., Owings Mills, MD

  • AFA Teens chapter at Pioneer High School, Ann Arbor, MI

  • AFA Teens chapter at The Meadows School, Las Vegas, NV

Click here to find out about forming a chapter in your community.

San Antonio, TX – Fall 2011

Marking its first event of the school year, members of the AFA Teens chapter at the Jose M. Lopez Middle School in San Antonio, TX joined with students in the school’s band and National Junior Honor Society (NJHS), on December 17 to visit The Laurels & The Haven in Stone Oak, an assisted living and Alzheimer's care retirement community in North Central San Antonio that is owned by Five Star Senior Living.

“This was a great way to get our community involved in the fight against Alzheimer’s disease. It was truly rewarding to see the look on the residents’ faces when we performed for them,” said Abhi Rao, president of both the AFA Teens chapter and the honor society.

The band opened with “The Nutcracker Suite” and closed with a traditional piece entitled “Angels We Have Heard on High.”

According to Bryant Anderson, a band member and treasurer of the NJHS, “They seemed really grateful that we came by.”

The AFA Teens chapter is planning several other volunteer service activities throughout the course of the year, including monthly visits to the retirement community to provide social interaction with the residents as well as band, drama and orchestra performances.

“We can make a profound impact on these residents and the community by taking these little steps,” Rao said.

The chapter thanks its advisor, Carolyn Hagan, for her support, enthusiasm and willingness to make things happen, as well as the students, faculty members and The Laurels & The Haven’s management team who assisted with the concert.

Also this fall, the chapter selected its officers for this year: Christina Zhu, vice president of membership; Dylan Hayes, secretary; and Olivia Curtis, vice president of programming.

 
Ann Arbor, MI-Fall 2011

Since the start of the school year, the members of the AFA Teens chapter at Pioneer High School in Ann Arbor, MI have been volunteering at a local Alzheimer's care facility every month.

“The chapter members have really enjoyed interacting with residents and have gained tremendously from their experience volunteering. The residents in turn have truly enjoyed the company of young people like us,” said Ananya Mayukha, the chapter’s president.

The chapter is also organizing several fundraisers, including a bake sale at its school in early December and a benefit concert in February to raise awareness of Alzheimer's disease.

 
Jericho, NY-Fall 2011

The AFA Teens chapter at Jericho High School in Jericho, NY is getting ready to ring in the holidays: it will participate in a holiday dance party on December 14 at the Harbor House Assisted Living in Oyster Bay, which specializes in people with Alzheimer’s disease and memory impairment. The residents will have the opportunity to enjoy entertainment from the students themselves, including singing, dancing and playing instruments to music reminiscent of the residents’ childhood or teenage years.

The chapter visits the residence each week and leads dance parties.  “The dance parties provide a fun time for the seniors as well as a greater understanding of Alzheimer's disease to the student volunteers of our club,” said Rachel John, the chapter’s president.

Among other activities, the chapter plans to hold bake sales at its high school. It carries out the events in partnership with another school organization called Project Care.


Suwanee, GA—November 2011

Students at Lambert High School in Suwanee, GA are letting local nursing home residents know that someone is thinking of them. The school’s AFA Teens chapter is currently hosting a "card drive” to collect hand-made holiday and other greeting cards that will be distributed during the holiday season and other times of the year to residents at Cumming Nursing Manor in Cumming, GA who never receive mail. The students’ goal is to distribute more than 200 personalized cards.

Further spreading joy during this season, the chapter is helping to dress the nursing home with holiday decorations and wrap gifts for residents, and is throwing a holiday party for the residents later this month—complete with refreshments and caroling.

Seekonk, MA-Summer 2010

When Marinna Edmond first found out that her grandfather was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease, she wanted to learn how other teens had reacted when they also learned that a relative had the disease. This is when she came across AFA Teens.

The help she got from AFA Teens prompted her to want to educate others about the disease and let them know about the teens division. Marinna decided to hold a fundraising dinner to benefit AFA during the summer. Her invitation included a letter to all of her guests that explained how hard it has been for her family to care for a loved one with Alzheimer's disease.

At the dinner, she gave a presentation that included what it had felt like the first time her grandfather didn't know her name as a result of his memory loss. Marinna's event raised more than $400 for AFA.

Monterey, CA-Spring 2010

Nicole Chang was inspired to get involved with AFA Teens as a result of the close relationship she had with her grandmother, who she lost to Alzheimer's disease in the fall of 2009.

"AFA Teens was reaching out to teens and not only encouraging them to spread knowledge about the disease, but also helping them through dealing with the emotions and process of a loved one having the disease," explained Nicole, who said she was devastated when her grandmother first started showing signs of the disease years ago.

Turning those emotions into something positive, she decided to hold a spaghetti buffet style dinner and have a raffle to raise funds for AFA as her high school senior project last spring. "I wanted to keep it simple and elegant, just like my grandma," Nicole said.

The teen worked hard very hard to plan her event. She sent out letters to ask organizations to donate a venue, linens, food and centerpiece. The event raised nearly $600 for AFA.

"It shocked me how many people were so unfamiliar with the disease, so I was happy they came to the event and were willing to learn about Alzheimer's. Putting together this event has been one of the most rewarding projects I have ever accomplished on my own," she said.

Norwell, MA Chapter-June 2009

Between school work, practices, club meetings and everything else in their lives, it's often impossible to get the entire family together in the same place and at the same time. This makes the Hynes family's story that much more amazing.

The five siblings, who range in age from 7 to 17, started an AFA Teens chapter in Norwell, MA last year, and each week, they gather as part of their traveling string quintet to both practice and perform at local long-term care facilities, where many of the residents have Alzheimer's disease. 

The oldest performer, Maggie, who plays the cello, said, “It's really cool to be able to see a transformation when we play. It makes it a very rewarding experience.”

Her grandfather’s diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease inspired her to begin playing at senior care facilities.

In conjunction with the quintet’s performances, Maggie has completed a series of studies evaluating the possible connection between live music and cognition in individuals with Alzheimer’s disease. She observed that residents’ cognitive responses gradually improved in correlation with the amount of performance time. While the results varied slightly with time of day and environment, the majority of the residents’ responses progressed from distracted to fully engaged after the siblings played for 20 minutes.

During Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month last November, the siblings performed for residents at the Norwell Knoll Nursing Home as part of the facility’s participation in AFA’s National Commemorative Candle Lighting event.

Maggie, who was recently named to the AFA Teens Advisory Board for 2009, said the quintet is becoming well known in her area, and she continues to believe that their live string music is improving the quality of life of the elderly and individuals with dementia in the community.

Maggie Candlelighting Ceremony

The quintet performs during a candle lighting ceremony at the nursing home.

 

La Canada, CA –February 2009

Watching her grandmother bravely face Alzheimer’s disease for the past five years, Natalie Innocenzi, 16, asked herself how many other teens— just like her— were being impacted by this devastating illness. Realizing she was not alone, Natalie formed an AFA Teens chapter last fall and set out to raise awareness of Alzheimer’s disease among her classmates at Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy in La Canada, CA. and, along the way, raise funds for AFA.

Seeking daily inspiration from her grandmother’s illness, Natalie relentlessly asked school administrators to allow her to hold an Alzheimer’s Awareness Week for students and teachers. Her persistence paid off, and last February she held the first Alzheimer’s Awareness Week in the school’s history.

As a chapter president, she was able to draw upon the resources of two of AFA’s member organizations based in Los Angeles: the Los Angeles Caregiver Resource Center and OPICA Adult Day Care & Caregiver Support Center.

Among the highlights of Alzheimer’s Awareness Week was a school assembly at which a staff member of the Los Angeles Caregiver Resource Center spoke about the importance of diagnosis and meaningful interactions with individuals facing dementia.

In addition, OPICA donated forget-me-knot seeds, which Natalie and her classmates planted in the school garden.

“My plan for the garden is to keep it going for many years to come, so that there will always be a symbol of Alzheimer's at my school,” Natalie said.

Natalie also distributed Alzheimer’s awareness pins to her 400 classmates, and she designed, produced and sold T-shirts, inscribed with the saying, “Remember Those Who Can’t.” Her efforts resulted in raising more than $1,300 to benefit AFA.

According to Natalie, so many parents came up to her days later to tell her that their children spoke to them about caring for loved ones with the illness. From these interactions she knew that the chapter’s Alzheimer’s Awareness Week was ultimately a success.

Chapter News

Natalie Innocenzi addresses students at the school assembly.

 


 

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