It’s November – time to plan turkey day with our families.
But it’s also Alzheimer’s Awareness month, and I want to give some space here to kids and families who are in the midst of it. First, here’s a pretty comprehensive article from the National Institute on Health on the topic if you’re working with kids in this situation. It’s available in Spanish, too, important since 15% of Hispanics ages 65 and older are diagnosed with the disease.
The Merci Suárez trilogy is, of course, set in the world of a girl coping with middle school life as well as with her grandfather’s accelerating illness. I’ve done my best to capture all of it as honestly as possible in the pages.
Still, when I book-talk the story with readers, I almost always lean heavily into Merci’s hijinks with friends and foes, in other words, the funny parts. But lurking in the background is Lolo’s illness. It’s palpable, page to page, and I know that in the book, as in life, the reality of a person’s decline is at times overwhelming.
I hope you’ll take a little time this month to reflect on the people in our communities who are facing this as-yet incurable illness as well as the 11 million people – including kids – who love and support them. They’re in your class, at your church, on your soccer team, living on your block. The kids in these families need relief. They need moments of levity. And they need ways to feel that they can offer something in the fight against such a debilitating disease.
Here are a two quick ideas:
Put your pandemic walking habits to good use and join a virtual Alzheimer’s Walk in the Park from wherever you are. You can walk any day you like and from any location between Oct 30 and Nov 30. Register for the “virtual” option.
Writing about something always helps clarify your thinking on it, so enter the AFA Teens for Alzheimer’s Awareness College Essay. For teens who’ve experienced the impact of Alzheimer’s, consider entering this essay contest with a $5,000 first place prize. Essays should be 1,200 – 1,500 words in length and describe the impact of Alzheimer’s Disease on themselves or their community. The application period opens today. Check for submission guidelines.