New club raises awareness for Alzheimers

Bradley students are provided have ample opportunites to get involved on campus through various groups and organizations available to join. One new club to campus looking to make an impact is the Youth Movement Against Alzheimers (YMAA).

Established last spring, YMAA has a membership totaling 15 students, according the organizatins president, Natalie Konopka. YMAA is a nationwide organization run mostly by college students, and the Bradley chapter is beginning to make strides, Konopka said.

Konopka said she started YMAA after spending three summers as a Certified Nursing Assistant, working closely with both those affected by Alzheimers disease as well as their families.

Seeing the disease firsthand really made [me] want to make a difference for families like this, Konopka, a sophomore marketing and public relations double major, said. I found an opportunity in YMAA and hope to grow this organization for the future.

In just the few short months YMAA has been on campus, the club has already put on multiple events and fundraisers for Alzheimers research. Past events include a memory wall, in which students donated $1 and wrote down a favorite memory to attach to a wall, provided by the group.

I really enjoyed the memory wall. It gave everyone an opportunity to reflect on memorable moments in their life, Konopka said. Alzheimers most known effect is memory loss, so most of our events are themed around memory.

YMAAs most recent event was a movie screening on Tuesday for Still Alice, a film which documents the life of a Columbia University professor as she struggles to maintain her academic mind while dealing with early onset Alzheimers.

According to Konopka, a key focus for her and the rest of Bradley YMAA is bridging the generational gap between those diagnosed with Alzheimers and those who can help with the research.

This generation can be the one to end Alzheimers, and everyone can play a part in that, Konopka said. Our goal is to raise awareness and fundraise for Alzheimers research, and with better technology and medical advances, I think it is possible to make significant strides towards curing Alzheimers in the near future.

Bradley YMAA is planning events for the near future such as a volunteer event on Nov.7 at OSF Saint Francis Medical Center Nov. 7, which allows for more direct contact with those diagnosed with Alzheimers disease. YMAA will also host Sips to Remember, in which the group will sell coffee and donuts on campus Nov. 16.

In addition to planning more events, Konopka said another focus of the YMAA is to get more students involved.

As of right now, we are focused on putting on successful fundraisers and increasing our membership, Konopka said. Hopefully, we can see some new faces joining us for this cause.

Students can get involved by coming to the groups meetings on Thursdays at 7:30 p.m., in room 215 of Cullom-Davis library, or by following @bradleyYMAA on Instagram. Those interested can contact Natalie Konopka at nkonopka@mail.bradley.edu.