Hello! My name is Bianca Chan, a student at the N.C. School of Science and Mathematics. My advocacy for Alzheimer’s disease patients began in ninth grade, when I saw a video of a ballerina with severe memory loss in an article titled “Viral video of ballerina with Alzheimer’s shows vital role of music in memory,” published by Lyndsey Winship on Nov. 13, 2020. The video showed the ballerina’s graceful arm movements as she listened to a song called “Swan Lake.” Mesmerized and touched by the power of music, I wanted to learn more about the cause behind the symptoms of those affected by this neurodegenerative disease.
I got curious and did some research on Alzheimer’s disease with a neuroscientist. While talking to patients and their families, I noticed that money and location can make it hard for them to get help. I looked up more information on www.alzheimersnorthcarolina.org and saw that there was a big need for care and support in North Carolina. So, I decided to use what I learned in my research to help. I talked to social workers and support group leaders in North Carolina to find out what was needed. Then, I started a nonprofit called the NeuroLOGIC Foundation to offer free help and activities for patients and caregivers all over the state and beyond.
Through my nonprofit organization, I have learned to be open minded to the ideas and opinions of experts in the field. I’ve also learned from the firsthand accounts of those who have professionally worked in the field, from research scientists studying the biological basis of the disease to support group directors who help patients and caregivers learn coping strategies. I strongly recommend that other students who are interested in devoting themselves to fighting for a cause do the same. By talking to professionals involved in different parts of the cause, both locally and nationally, you can find out what needs aren’t being met and how you can use your skills to help.
I started a project to make support kits for Alzheimer’s patients and caregivers, funded by bake sales. These kits, called NeuroBoxes, have activities like puzzles and coloring books to help with cognitive and behavioral symptoms. I’ve given out over 200 of these to places in North Carolina to help people keep their brains active in a fun way. I also started a music program called NeuroMelodies, whereby students play music for the elderly online. I’ve added music tones that can help with Alzheimer’s symptoms, according to a study. We’ve reached about 2,000 patients through this program, working with support groups and memory care homes.
Alzheimer’s is a major cause of death, according to uclahealth.org and aamc.org, and new treatments are coming out fast. It’s really important for us to help people with Alzheimer’s get the help they need. I’m trying to make life better for patients and their families by helping them handle this tough disease. I think it’s super important for students to learn about Alzheimer’s because we’ll be the future scientists and leaders. By learning and teaching others, students can show more empathy and give hope to people with Alzheimer’s. I believe not having a cure yet should motivate students and others to use their skills to help these patients.
The opinions and perspectives expressed in NC Talks columns are those of the authors. Submissions have been edited for length and clarity. They do not purport to reflect the views of Carolina Public Press, its staff, board of directors, or contributors.
Bianca Chan is a high school student from Cary. She attends the N.C. School of Science and Mathematics. Chan is extremely passionate about neuroscience, especially the neurobiology of Alzheimer’s disease. Beyond neuroscience, she has conducted scientific research focused on pharmacokinetics and drug discovery for various types of diseases and cancers. Outside of being involved in STEM, Chan has a special interest in learning Latin and reading Roman literature.
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