Children today are, more than ever before, likely to interact with family and community members living with a dementia. These occurrences are more likely to happen as the population ages, with over 900,000 Australians expected to be living with dementia by 2050 (Deloitte Access Economics, 2011). Project DARE developed a short education intervention for Stage 2 (ages 8 - 11 years) at a local public school. It utilised art as a medium for children to express their knowledge and perception of dementia. The children were introduced to the talents of local artists who spent two full days working with the children at the school and teaching them new visual art techniques and histories. In between the two art lessons the children received a lesson on dementia.
The children presented as surprised, excited and proud to learn new art skills and to see the results of their works. The project made children aware of the issue of dementia so that they can better understand people in our community who live with a dementia. In turn, Project DARE, in its stages of infancy, has started a small but powerful wave of change in our community... children who better understand dementia, who are more open to relating to those who have dementia, creating a more caring, understanding and humanistic relationship with those around us who need our care and compassion. It is this kind of impact that we can only hope will grow, as this project grows both in Australia around the globe.
4. Quality education
10. Reduced inequalities
11. Sustainable cities and communities
Details of the Impact
The project utilised a mixed-methods approach to gain an understanding of children’s knowledge and perceptions of dementia. Prior to exposure to the intervention, children’s knowledge of dementia was measured using a previously developed tool from the Kids4Dementia Project (Baker, Goodenough, & Low, 2015). The children then completed an art work representing a personal memory with the help of local artists. Photography was used to capture the artwork at this stage.
A week later, a short education intervention occurred, which explained dementia, the signs and symptoms, the reasons people get dementia, what people with dementia might do, and how we can help people with dementia in our communities. A week after the educational intervention the children were given a colour photocopy and a black and white photocopy of their initial artwork and an art board. The children then asked to add to their initial artwork based on what they had learnt about memory and dementia. At the completion of the project, the children were asked to complete the knowledge survey for a second time.
The people involved in the research included an interdisciplinary group of academics from UOW, a teacher from the local public school and a local artist. The group grew to include the local public school community, including the administrative and teaching staff of the school, parents, community members, and other local artists
The teachers at the school commented on the benefit of this project (see video) and suggested this could be delivered to other schools. We have also been contacted by other international institutions and hope to work together to deliver similar projects in their regions.
There is much research that looks at the best way that we can teach our children in schools and a recent trend is "short, cyclical programming" where students are taught in short spurts of time with outcomes that relate to other subject matter. Project DARE successfully utilised this pedagogy in the one hour, six part lesson on dementia. As educators discuss and struggle to meet the outcomes of the "crowded curriculum" it is often the fine arts that begin to suffer in our school systems. This project harnessed the exquisite skills of experts in the community to share their passion of visual arts with the children and helped them to explore their creative talents without added stress, work, time, or clean up for the teachers themselves. In this way, each expert, whether researcher, artist or teacher, was able to impact the children.
Project DARE opens the doors to future university/school/community partnerships where all three groups work together. We believe that a global Project DARE is on the horizon where we share the vision, expand the purpose, include more health related issues and create a global impact of working together to strengthen our communities.
- Nearly 100 primary school children
- Teacher/university partnerships
- International institutions