[This letter was sent to the Board of Education of School District No. 74, and is reprinted here with the author’s permission: Ed.]
A group of local volunteers saw the potential of the vacant [Ashcroft Elementary] school and they wondered about possibilities. So, the birth of the HUB went from “They should” — meaning the school board, the town council, and local businesses — to “What about us?” From that thought the HUB was born.
What an amazing gift that was and hopefully still is.
We received theatre, music, and video streaming. This led to the development of talent from the youngest child who proudly performed to the shyest performer who revealed hidden gifts. Volunteers gave untold hours revealing those gifts. One performance remains forever in my mind. It was called Shrek. It was given to us, the town of Ashcroft, by 20 small children, nine adults, and an untold number of volunteers. To see those little children dance with rhythm and joy is something that this 93-year-old woman will never forget. That the participants came from a wide area, spreading from Spences Bridge to Cache Creek and Clinton, only emphasizes the extent of the HUB’s reach.
My own joy in the HUB comes from the music and drama. Reaching far back in my memory to when I was a member of the school board, there was an awareness that when drama and music were removed from the curriculum, bullying in the school yard increased noticeably. The HUB has not only educated young children, it has also educated whole communities.
This is just a small glimpse of what the HUB has done. It is my hope that others will tell you about the music, filming, exercising groups, dance classes, and art. I expect you will receive many reports of all that the HUB has added to our communities.
What is being accomplished here does not give the Ashcroft district special treatment as the school board has suggested. It has shown an example to all just what can be accomplished with a willing step forward.
I urge the school board to look a little deeper into their decision to break the lease with the HUB and to shut this wonderful centre down. Perhaps without COVID-19, which terminated many of the HUB’s money-making activities, they would have been able to purchase the building by the end of their lease, which was their hope and their dream.
At the end of Alzheimer’s Awareness Month 2021, the Alzheimer Society of B.C. thanks the people of Ashcroft and Cache Creek for the role they play in helping to change the future for people living with dementia and their families across B.C.
While the Alzheimer Society of B.C.’s vision is for a province where families on the dementia journey are welcomed, acknowledged, and included — a truly dementia-friendly B.C. — the COVID-19 pandemic has shone a light on some of the issues facing families on the dementia journey, including social implications and the many challenges being experienced in long-term care. Never has it been more important to not simply raise awareness of the disease but to talk about what we want the future to look like for people living with the disease and how we’re going to get there.
Even under normal circumstances, the dementia journey can be incredibly isolating. This remains a difficult time for caregivers of people living with dementia, including many who are supporting people living in long-term care and are unable to stay connected as they have in the past. Making a commitment to finding ways to engage with the people in your life who are living with the disease is an important part of a dementia-friendly future, but so is raising your voice and becoming an advocate for policies that reflect their needs.
Though Alzheimer’s Awareness Month ended with January, the work isn’t finished. We hope Ashcroft and Cache Creek residents will remain committed to changing the future. One way we invite you to do this is by registering and fundraising for the IG Wealth Management Walk for Alzheimer’s.
Participants can raise funds to support Alzheimer Society of B.C. programs and service and walk their own way throughout May to honour people in their lives who have been affected by dementia. Then we will join together virtually on Sunday, May 30 to celebrate the difference we’ve made. To learn more, visit http://bit.ly/3amHsUG.
It’s going to take a movement of people committed to making life better for Canadians affected by dementia. Local volunteers play an invaluable role.
By sharing our stories and publishing our letters, local media helps foster a better understanding of dementia’s impact on local families. Together, we are working towards our goal of a dementia-friendly province.
If your family is affected by Alzheimer’s disease or another dementia, please call the First Link Dementia Helpline (1-800-936-6033) to learn about the disease or find out about support groups and other services available to Ashcroft and Cache Creek residents. Learn more about us at www.alzheimerbc.org.
Support & Education Coordinator,
Central Interior region
Alzheimer Society of B.C.