NEW to RosFM – Voyage Around My Brain

Photo Caption (taken before covid)
(Kate Byrne, John Gore-Grimes, Karen Meenan and Dr Francesca Farina in the attached headshot)

Voyage Around My Brain is a dementia-inclusive radio series originally broadcast on NearFM and now on RosFM that examines aspects of brain health from different viewpoints. Each program features an ‘expert voice’, typically a member of the Global Brain Health Institute (GBHI) community, and the voice of somebody living with dementia and/or a caregiver. As a social entrepreneur, Karen Meenan recognized the vital importance of including the voices of dementia-inclusive creative artists who offer hope after a diagnosis.

As a lover of poetry and music, she also thought that it would be interesting to invite her guests to share pieces of music or poetry that are important to them with our audience. The results were astonishing. Many guests recited a poem they had written especially for the program or one written by a family member. Poets Maya Angelou and Seamus Heaney were firm favorites, while the music choices ranged from opera, rock, and jazz to traditional, classical, and pop.

Voyage Around My Brain and the previous series Reminiscence on the Radio received the Gold Award in the Social Benefit Category by CRAOL, the National Community Radio Forum of Ireland. The judges remarked that it was their first time hearing the voices of people living with dementia sharing their stories on the radio.

Brain Health Perspectives
Voyage Around My Brain, which was researched, presented and produced by Karen Meenan, also proved to be a novel way to learn more about brain health by interviewing other Atlantic Fellows for Equity in Brain Health and learning about their work:
• Magda Kaczmarska (USA) shared her passion for dementia-inclusive dance.
• Gráinne Hope (Ireland) offered her love of music in dementia-care.
• Tomás León (Chile) and Luciano Marciano (Brazil) shared their difficulties being understood while speaking their third languages.
• Adolfo Garcia (Argentina) explained why people revert to their earliest language at the end stages of dementia.
Other topics included:
• Theatre featuring Nicky Taylor (UK)
• Community engagement with Dominic Campbell (Ireland)
• ‘What is Brain Health’ was explored by Francesca Farina (Ireland), Sarah Fox (UK), Susanne Röhr (Germany) and Berenice Werle (Brazil)
• A special program about how brain health is managed in Africa featured Wambui Karanja (Kenya), Primrose Nyamayaro (Zimbabwe), and Funmi Akindejoye (Nigeria).

Hanan Khalil, a physiotherapist from Jordan, spoke about the importance of exercise, especially dance, for people living with Parkinson’s disease, which inspired a follow-on series centered on different neurodegenerative diseases.

The title of this series ‘Voyage Around My Brain’ was inspired by John Gore-Grimes, an arctic and antarctic explorer who now lives with Alzheimer’s Disease (AD). John and his wife Kate Byrne were guests in the previous series Reminiscence on the Radio (1965) – they were invited back to share their experiences of living with AD with neuroscientist Dr Francesca Farina. This programme is the first one in this new series ‘Voyage Around My Brain. Karen would like to extend her gratitude to all the guests who shared their stories about living with dementia so graciously and honestly. ‘The people who live with these neurodegenerative diseases are the real experts!’.