Why KinderPrep Academy
KinderPrep Academy of Martinsville is the only intergenerational program in Morgan County, bridging the gap between the youth and the elders in the community. Our mission in to ensure that we develop a new generation of people who have the elders and their needs at the forefront of their minds, especially those living with Alzheimer's/dementia.
KinderPrep Academy is an intergenerational program located in the heart of Martinsville, Indiana.
My name is Ashley Handy, CEO/Owner of KinderPrep Academy I From a young age, I knew I was destined to become a teacher; I mean, what other 10-year-old dresses in tights, turtlenecks, velvet skirts and clogs and requests an overhead projector for Christmas?!? The teachers who impacted my life the most were my music teachers and I wanted to make a difference in the world as well. I graduated from Indiana University Bloomington with a degree in Elementary Education with concentrations in Language Arts & Humanities and Music. Following graduation, I had the opportunity to work as a Lead Preschool teacher for The Goddard School, learning how to engage children aged 3-5 years old. In order to get my foot in the door in public education, I accepted a position as an instructional assistant in a Kindergarten classroom where I was in charge of intervention groups for those children who were struggling to meet their educational benchmarks by creating engaging activities to help them reach their goals in literacy and mathematics. The summer after my husband and I welcomed our son in 2013, I had the opportunity to work in a skilled nursing facility as a Customer Care Representative and I absolutely fell IN LOVE with the geriatric population! I knew that working with our elders was where I needed to be at that time. Over the next seven years in healthcare, I would continue my education earning certifications as a Social Service Designee, Certified Nurse Assistant and Certified Dementia Practitioner. My heart was most drawn to caring for those living with Alzheimer’s/dementia as my grandmother had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s around the same time that I entered the healthcare world. I had the opportunity to use my education background to educate families, emergency responders and advocates on the disease process and how they could best help those living with Alzheimer’s/dementia. This February, I traveled 1,500 miles across the country in order to celebrate my grandmother’s 90th birthday as I knew it could very well be her last with the physical and cognitive declines that she was experiencing. I walked into her house and immediately entered a twilight zone. She had all of the same furniture, all of the same family pictures hanging on the walls, all of the same toys her children used to play with… everything was the same. Her home brought back so many childhood memories for me and was excited to travel down Memory Lane with my grandmother! Now, working with those living with Alzheimer’s/dementia daily made me a bit numb to those moments when my residents would forget who I was. I prided myself in being able to jump in and out of their world as a quick friend and brush off any negative encounters, if needed. I was not, however, prepared for the moment when my own grandmother could not remember me… could not remember who my dad was or how I was related to her. She knew I was a “safe person” but the heaviest feeling came over my heart as we spent the first days of my visit trying to make the connection between her and me sink in. I am so grateful that I made the decision to take my two children with me on that trip. My son, Eli, (7) and daughter, Marley, (now 4) were going to be the key to us having those meaningful moments that made me realize the importance of the two generations interacting with one another. We arrived in Utah on February 26th, 2020. On the morning of February 27th, I witnessed the cutest interaction between my grandmother and my daughter, Marley. Marley wanted to play horses and my grandmother was tickled to do so. So tickled in fact, that the interaction triggered some deeply buried childhood memories of her horses when she was little. You can watch the video of this sweet interaction here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jLlF_0S_DTM.
This simple interaction sparked so many other childhood memories that she was eager to share with us throughout the day. I was ecstatic to be able to listen to the most memorable moments of her life even though the memories of the two of us did not exist in her world anymore. By the third day of our stay, my son, Eli, would encourage her to participate in more cognitively challenging games like “Spot It” which was helping improve her brain synapses right before my eyes. She seemed to be more aware of her surrounding and of us as her family, though she still could not recall our exact relation or our names.
By day 5, the morning following her 90th birthday party where she had the chance to reminisce with one of her only remaining cousins, she came walking downstairs full of energy! She was able to recall my name, my relation to her and was more independent in her mental and physical function. I was absolutely flabbergasted! She was back to the grandmother that I remembered as a child who would vocalize how independent she was and that I did not need to do a single thing for her! 😊 We traveled home a couple of days later just in time to avoid the travel ban and I was back to working in the chaotic world of healthcare. Fast forward to April 14th, 2020 where, due to COVID-19, my position as Admissions/Marketing Director was eliminated. I knew in my heart it was God pushing me to start pursuing my life’s calling… I knew I needed to actively start working towards bridging the gap between the two generations so that I could continue to make a difference in this world. The intergenerational program between KinderPrep Academy of Martinsville and A Senior Retreat will not only improve the lives of our elders but we will be creating a whole new generation of humans who will be in-tune with their elder counterparts- particularly those living with Alzheimer’s/dementia; a generation of people who won’t let those who fought for and built this country fall through the cracks.
If the mission of KinderPrep Academy of Martinsville speaks to your heart and you have a child between the ages of 3-5 years old, please consider getting them involved in this program. All you have to do is contact me so we can secure your spot! There are limited spots available as this is not a large institutionalized program, so do not wait to enroll your child until it is too late! Make your move TODAY. I cannot wait to share all of the upcoming miracles that will happen between our youth and our elders of Martinsville!