(Grandma Patti and Sarah enjoying time together)
Purple and Gold are colors that hold real significance for Sarah Molepske, a 2012 graduate of Kohler High School. Sarah recently received her Gold Award from the Girl Scouts of Manitou Council. This exceptional honor is bestowed on a very select group of senior high girls. The award represents the highest achievement in Girl Scouts. Purple is the official color of the Alzheimer’s Association, and it symbolizes a movement that Sarah hopes to advance within the ranks of Generation Next.
Sarah’s interest in the Alzheimer’s movement runs deep. Her grandma, Patty, is living with dementia. Sarah thought it would be wonderful to give a gift of memories to her grandma. So when the opportunity arose to do a website project in her Contemporary World Affairs class at Kohler High School, everything started to fall into place. Sarah developed a website just for grandma Patty filled with videos and heartfelt sentiments from all her grandchildren.
But she didn’t stop there. Sarah realized that her generation knew very little about this devastating disease. She wanted to make an impact by creating an event to raise awareness of the disease among her peers and the entire Kohler community. This project became the focus of her Gold Award. For more than a year, Sarah worked in collaboration with Ginny Nyhuis, regional services coordinator for the Alzheimer’s Association, to learn about the disease and develop strategies and tactics to engage others.
Sarah envisioned creating a Purple Day in the Kohler schools and with Nyhuis’s guidance, she planned programming for students at every level. “My idea, for the high school and middle school was to first raise awareness by using appropriate videos that I found,” said Sarah. “I also wanted to explain to students how I am making a positive difference in my grandma’s life. For the elementary schools I found a children’s book, What’s Happening to Grandpa? by Maria Shriver, that their teachers could read to them. Then I thought all students could take a few minutes to make a difference by making cards for Alzheimer’s patients”.
On May 3rd, Sarah turned Kohler High School purple. Students, faculty and administrators wore purple to school and Sarah hosted an assembly to educate her classmates about Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias. Her presentation included several informational videos and Ginny Nyhuis was also asked to give a short presentation. “I was amazed by the number of questions these teenagers had,” said Nyhuis. “It was an amazing time”.