Vedika Rajasekaran wins Alzheimer’s Foundation volunteer challenge
Vedika Rajasekaran, 17, now a senior at Johns Creek High School, spent last summer volunteering with Alzheimers’ patients. Not only were her experiences memorable, but her contributions and her recounting of them were of such quality as to earn her place as winner of the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America’s (AFA) Teens Volunteer Across America Challenge.
The competition is designed to foster intergenerational communication and understanding, and groom the next generation of leaders in the Alzheimer’s community. Vedika had volunteered at Sunrise Senior Living to “coalesce my Indian ideals for elder care with the American culture,” she said. “The elders of our society have led their lives, and made their contributions for us, but it is our turn now to give back and be with them in their hour of need.”
She spent six to eight hours per week for seven weeks leading or participating in karaoke, baking, arts projects and other activities. As she recounted in her essay, one of the many lessons she gained from the experience was “to be more patient; a warm smile is almost always rewarded with a smile in return.” Sunrise’s activities and volunteer coordinator Onshalique Wilson affirms that “Vedika is a natural leader, organized, focused, professional, and passionate. She is also very observant of the residents’ needs, and willing to advocate on their behalf.”According to a survey by the National Alliance for Caregiving and United Hospital Fund, more than one million children nationwide care for sick or disabled parents and grandparents; Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias are the most prevalent illnesses. As many as 5.1 million Americans currently have Alzheimer’s disease, and the incidence is rising exponentially in line with the nation’s aging population.
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