Children as Educators of Dementia: Brandon Plaquet
St. Jude’s student’s Alzheimer project takes top honors
When Brandon Plaquet articulately explains his award-winning project focusing on the Alzheimer Society of Oxford, his enthusiasm and deep-rooted personal interest in the subject matter becomes immediately palpable.
The assignment of Grade 7 students selecting a non-profit organization for a corresponding topic for presentation to the classroom was the idea of St. Jude’s Catholic Elementary School teacher Don Hewey.
“I did some preliminary research back in September of last year,” said Brandon. “When I saw just how important the subject of Alzheimer’s Disease is and the incredible work of the Alzheimer Society of Oxford is doing, I knew this was my topic.
“From the very start everybody was incredibly helpful. The first time I visited the office I was so impressed with the staff that was so accommodating and with the excellent facilities. There was so much important and informative material, both visual and print.”
For several weeks from late last September to mid-October Brandon diligently sifted through and sorted out vital facts and figures from brochures, texts, visual aides and videos, complementing all of this with his own intense research on the computer.
Family members were supportive of his work throughout the process from day one with his mother Lisa visiting the Society’s office at 575 Peel Street in Woodstock in search of resources and materials for Brandon’s research.
For a recent interview his parents Brian and Lisa and younger sister Erin, a Grade 5 student at St. Jude’s, listened intently as Brandon detailed how the subject matter became more and more important to him from the beginning to the conclusion of his project.
“I learned so much about Alzheimer’s during this time, how many people are affected and what the Alzheimer Society of Oxford is doing for everyone,” he said. “The well-equipped facility was comfortable and I just couldn’t believe the amount of excellent material that I could use for my research. I knew I wanted to be more involved doing fundraising.”
“When we were finished our class decided who made the best presentation. If you got the most votes, everyone would then raise money through school events and other fundraising efforts until February 2020 for your non-profit organization. I was pleased but also very humbled when my project took first prize.”
Brandon’s teacher praised Brandon’s research work and power-point presentation that resulted in top honors for the 12-year-old student.
“He did a very good job of getting the message out to his classmates, all of whom did excellent work. His parents were keen on supporting him, playing an important role in the project. The students looked over the material with interest and enjoyed assembling the paper brain hats.”
Brandon’s family was delighted with the result, the effort Brandon put into the work, support and assistance from the Alzheimer Society of Oxford and Don Hewey’s developmental and organizational roles.
“We were very proud of Brandon as he took a real interest in this project,” said Lisa. “He was eager to research the information and develop his presentation as soon as it was assigned. I had not seen that much drive for previous assignments.
“As well as support from The Alzheimer Society of Oxford, I also have to commend Mr. Hewey for creating a project that not only taught the kids about different charities but also to then follow through with fundraising for the community.”
Working alongside Society staff members including Education Coordinator Leah Entz, Fundraising Assistant Henriette MacArthur and Manager of Programs and Services Leanne Turner provided materials like brochures, the ‘for teens’ handout and brain hats the class could assemble.
Up next is a possible St. Jude’s team to participate in the 2020 Walk for Alzheimer’s January 25 from 2-4 p.m. in Woodstock. (An earlier event is set for January 18 from 10 a.m.-12 p.m. in Tillsonburg).
“We are still in the process of trying to form a Walk team for 2020,” Brandon said. “I am certainly interested in doing more fundraising at a later date for the Society. The Walk is so important and plays such a large role that it would be great to be part of this event.”
As the Walk is an off-site event for students dealing with issues like transportation and permission, Brandon’s teacher said they are first awaiting approval from St. Jude’s principal and the board.
“If a class team doesn’t happen, maybe I could form my own team,” added Brandon. “Whatever happens, I am certainly interested in being part of events that involve education and the need to increase the awareness of Alzheimer’s. This is very important to all of us.”
Brandon photo by Luis Photography