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The Scarlet & Black

Psychology Department hosts first Alzheimer’s walk

This Saturday, Oct. 5, Grinnell’s Psychology Department will be hosting its first Walk to End Alzheimer’s fundraiser. All proceeds will be donated to the Alzheimer’s Association, a national nonprofit.

The walk was originally suggested by Janet Gibson, Psychology, as part of Grinnell’s psychology honors society, Psi Chi’s annual service project. However, this year the walk was organized as a collective effort by Psi Chi and the Psychology Student Educational Policy Committee (SEPC).

“Psychology is based on the principle that research and service is important, especially when you give back to the community,” Gibson said.

This fundraiser serves the dual purpose of raising funds and awareness for Alzheimer’s and bringing more attention to Psi Chi and the Psychology Department.

“This walk is a way to make Psi Chi and the Psychology Department more apparent to the student body, and this is one form of putting ourselves out there. But more importantly, it’s a way to raise awareness about Alzheimer’s Disease,” said Michelle Kim ’14, a member of Psi Chi.

The walk was advertised via posters, Facebook and by writing to local nursing and retirement centers, such as Grinnell’s Mayflower Community.

Grinnell’s “Walk to End Alzheimer’s” fundraiser is registered as a third-party walk under the Alzheimer’s Association. It is not an official walk advertised on the Alzheimer’s Association’s website, but rather a smaller, community-based walk. Regardless, the members of the Psychology Department believe that awareness is extremely important.

“Iowa has the third-highest Alzheimer’s death rate in the nation, especially since we have such a large elderly population. Many Iowans may know someone who is affected by Alzheimer’s, but they predict that by 2050, everyone will know someone who has Alzheimer’s,” Gibson said.

There is no registration fee to attend the walk, though the Psychology Department encourages individuals to sponsor a student who is walking, or for individuals to bring donations.

“I’m not sure what the turnout will be like, but I’m hoping that a lot of the Psychology Department will be there. Even if people can’t be at the walk, they can sponsor a student who will be walking. I think that if we raise $500 on Saturday, that would be pretty good for our first walk,” Gibson said.

As of today, there is no cure for Alzheimer’s Disease. Current research is focused on finding a good diagnostic for the illness.

Psychology SEPC member Joyce Bartlett ’15 is proud of the efforts of the Psychology Department in putting together this walk.

“It’s important to raise awareness about mental illnesses. There’s a sense of stigmatization against individuals with mental illnesses. It’s scary to me, how a disease can completely change a person’s life and that person’s family,” Bartlett said.

Participants will meet between 10-11 a.m. on Saturday in front of the JRC. Walkers will depart from the JRC at 11 a.m., proceeding down Park Street, Main Street and First Avenue.

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