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Student writes 'A Kid's Guide to Dementia'

An 18-year-old student from Maidenhead has written a book to help children better understand dementia and its impact.

A Kid’s Guide to Dementia by Tegan Harris is being released in collaboration with Alzheimers Dementia Support (ADS) to raise awareness and funds to help those affected by the disease.

ADS is based in Maidenhead, with a shop in High Street, and supports people in the town as well as Windsor, Ascot, Slough and Langley and all points in between.

Tegan says that prior to writing the illustrated educational book, which is ‘friendly and informal’, she knew about the condition, but did not have any real knowledge of it.

She found out more two years ago when she was doing some voluntary video editing for ADS during the summer holidays, prior to starting at sixth form college Hurtwood House School, in Surrey.

Tegan took A-levels in business, media, theatre, and also an Extended Project Qualification (EPQ), and was awarded A* in each.

Tegan explained that the EPQ gives students the opportunity to pose themselves a question, and based on that, either write an essay or create a project.

Given her new-found insight into dementia through ADS, Tegan had the idea of writing a book for her EPQ.

“When I looked for sources of information I found there was almost nothing out there for young people to learn safely and accurately about dementia,” she said.

The question she posed herself was, ‘how can we educate the eight to 11-year-old age group about dementia?’.

She said: “Many young people are impacted in one way or another by dementia, via grandparents or even parents, and I think that this is the age range when you can begin to talk about things that may seem scary to them.”

As well as educating young people, Tegan wanted the book to break down misconceptions about the condition, including that dementia is solely about memory loss and that this happens instantly.

“To be honest, that was my belief before I did the research myself, and I found that there is so much more to dementia than people think,” she said.

Tegan also acknowledges that some children may even be carers for loved ones living with dementia and, in general, ‘children risk being forgotten when considering who may need support’.

The teenager, who will be going to the University of Exeter this year to study marketing and management, said: “If this book helps one young person through their experience with dementia, then it has been a success in my eyes.”

David Jannetta, ADS founder, voluntary chairman, managing director and trustee said: “We were approached by Tegan who expressed a keen desire to produce a publication raising awareness with young people of the many ways they could support their loved ones and friends living with Dementia.

"This idea was wholeheartedly embraced and on behalf of the Board of Trustees at Alzheimers Dementia Support sincere thanks goes out to Tegan for her approach, hard work, dedication, professionalism and detail in the production of this book which is much appreciated.”

A Kid’s Guide To Dementia will be available to download as an e-book from Amazon on Friday, August 28.

Hard copies of the book will be available at www.adscharity.com or to buy in the ADS shop in Maidenhead High Street.

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