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Several years ago while working as a registered nurse at an Alzheimer's care facility, I took note of how the residents responded postitively to young visitors. Residents, who had previously been withdrawn and quiet, would suddenly begin to verbalize and smile with a young visitor present. Along with the positive response from the residents, I sometimes noticed a sense of discomfort on the part of the young visitor who seemed unsure of how to respond to certain situations. Realizing this was due in great part to a lack of understanding and education about Alzheimer's disease, I developed a program known as CARE Camp®, which educates young people about Alzheimer's disease and teaches them how to interact in a positive way with people who have dementia, enabling them to have successful and meaningful relationships with them.
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Since the inception of the CARE Camp® program in 1997, several formats of the program have been developed to accomodate young people of various ages. Through participation in the program, many grandchildren of loved ones suffering from Alzheimer's disease have been taught care giving skills and have received support and encouragement while caring for loved ones with this disease. Over 100 Girl Scouts have earned and received Alzheimer's Awareness Merit badge awards through CARE Camp® workshops. Many teenagers have earned community service hours through participation in workshops. The program is offered in a variety of formats, including a 2 hour program for children ages 5 to 9 or 10 to 12; a 4 hour program for teens ages 13 - 17; and a week long summer/mid-year vacation program for teenagers.
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