In their own words: An exploration of primary children's participation in a dementia education program
Health Promotion Journal of Australia
Issue Addressed: As the population ages the prevalence of dementia increases and children are increasingly experiencing family members and older friends living with dementia. Unfortunately, stigma about living with dementia is common. Increasing understanding about dementia among children has the potential to reduce this stigma. This paper reports on the qualitative findings of Project DARE (dementia knowledge, art, research and education), a school-based, multi-modal, arts program designed to increase understanding about dementia among children aged 8–10 years. Methods: A constructivist grounded theory approach was used to understand students' experience of the intervention. Thematic analysis was used to identify key themes emerging from interviews with randomly selected students (n = 40) who had taken part in the program. Results: The data analysis generated three themes related to students' awareness of dementia and experiences of the program: (1) nurturing empathy, (2) memory loss is complex, (3) learning about dementia through the arts to promote resilience. These themes show that the intervention increased students' awareness of dementia, and empathy towards people who are both directly and indirectly affected by dementia. Conclusions: Although dementia education can be viewed as too sensitive for primary aged students, the current study demonstrates that such initiatives are feasible and can be effectively implemented with this age group. So What?: Changing student's beliefs about dementia can positively impact their relationships with people living with dementia.
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