A dementia education program to improve dementia awareness in young people

What is it?

Teens4Dementia (T4D) is a teacher-led, multimedia dementia education program for Year 7 and 8 students. It was designed by a team of researchers, teachers and people living with dementia.

Why is it important?

An estimated 401,300 Australians are living with dementia. This number is expected to double by 2058. Dementia is a leading burden of disease among older people, surpassing cardiovascular disease.

Research has confirmed that the risk of developing dementia can be reduced by following certain health and lifestyle habits. For example, keeping active, eating healthy, protecting your head, challenging your brain and being social. Many studies have attempted to modify health and lifestyle habits in middle-aged and older adults, but these habits typically emerge during adolescence and young adulthood. Targeting these younger age groups could potentially lead to long-lasting impacts on brain health.

Research has also shown that people living with dementia and their family members can feel embarrassed, isolated, and unsupported. The stigma of dementia is a huge barrier to seeking help and accessing support services.

Therefore, this education program has two major aims:

  • To increase awareness of dementia and reduce stigma associated with the condition.
  • To increase awareness of health and lifestyle factors associated with dementia risk and encourage healthier lifestyle behaviours.

I’m interested, tell me more…

The Teens4Dementia program incorporates seven modules. Students learn about how it feels to have dementia or live with someone with dementia, and how to maintain brain health through an animated story, and live-action videos. The modules are accompanied by interactive activity options which can be completed during class or as homework. Some modules include more than one activity option so that teachers can tailor the activities to their class.  The program demands minimal preparation and resources. It is easily adaptable to school curricula and requires no prior knowledge from the teacher.

Each module takes between 20 and 40 minutes – approximate total time of 3.5 hours). It is recommended that the modules be delivered over several weeks within one term. Spacing out the modules allows the students to reflect, consolidate and review the information learnt and thus enable more effective and longer lasting learning.

How can our school get involved?

We invite Year 7 and 8 PDHPE (Personal Development, Health and Physical Education; or equivalent) teachers to deliver the program in their classes. Please get in touch with us if you are interested stepup.research@sydney.edu.au


Project Lead: Professor Yun-Hee Jeon, Director of StepUp for Research, Susan and Isaac Wakil Professor of Healthy Ageing, The University of Sydney

Project Team: Dr Stephanie Wong, Clinical Neuropsychologist and Research Fellow, Flinders University; Dr Jess Baker, Kids4Dementia Research developer, Clinical Psychologist and Scientific Writer, StepUp for Dementia Research, The University of Sydney; Dr Katrina Champion, Senior Research Fellow and Dr Lauren Gardner, Research Fellow, The Matilda Centre, The University of Sydney; Mr John Quinn and Ms Glenys Petrie, Honorary Research Associates, The University of Sydney and Members of the Public Involvement Panel, StepUp for Dementia Research; and Mr Joel Baines, PDHPE Teacher, Rooty Hill High School.