By Mike Renzella
The Haldimand Press
HALDIMAND—The winners of the DICE Mural Contest, an art contest sponsored by DICE (Dementia Inclusive Communities for Everyone), have been announced.
The contest, which sought the help of Haldimand residents to create a public mural showing what it means to be part of a dementia-inclusive community, ran until February 28. Submitted murals will be displayed in public places throughout Haldimand in 2022. Additionally, cash prizes of $500, $300, and $200 were awarded to first, second, and third place winners.
First place was awarded to Andrea Bridge of Caledonia. Bridge attended the Ontario College of Art, studied as an RPN, holds a Bachelor of Social Work, and is parent to 19-year-old triplets. She recalled the impact of her Alzheimer’s diagnosis at age 48, noting that not only did she have to give up her job, but she found friendships drifting away, and a general lack of involvement with the world.
“I entered the contest because I feel Alzheimer’s and dementia can be really misunderstood. We are made up of all ages. We are made up of different abilities. I need help with some aspects of my life, but I can still tell jokes, chat, and engage. Telling someone I have Alzheimer’s shut down doors. I want to open doors back up,” said Bridge.
She explained the inspiration behind her submission: “My painting represents that this issue affects anyone and everyone. It could be your men, women, parents, grandparents, siblings, in every country in the world. I wanted to give warmth to my picture as well as diversity. I wanted it to not be depressing, but hopeful. Just like many diseases, there is no exact timeline for progression. We want to be relevant and productive for as long as we can. This disease does not just affect the patient; it affects your friends, co-workers, and family. I want to help open the conversation on how our communities can bring people with dementia back into the circle.”
Second place was a tie between two artists, Sarah Butcher of Jarvis and Gina McIntee of Dunnville.
Butcher, a lifelong Haldimand resident, mother, and active community volunteer, says she has always had a “natural, artistic ability and am most happy when creating something. My storage room is full of ‘bits and bobs’, paint, and other miscellaneous supplies awaiting transformation by my amateur hands.”
She decided to enter the contest because, as an active volunteer, she’s seen firsthand what it means to belong to a community and to serve that community: “I’m grateful to listen, learn, and team up with those who bring their life experience into initiatives.”
She explained of her piece, “My submission tries to highlight what Haldimand is known for in both agriculture and proximity to the lake. I wanted to show that our community values the ideas, words, and actions of its members, including those with dementia. The Forget-Me-Nots, a symbol of dementia, and placed in the brain area of the silhouette, rooted in our famous clay, blooming, and also planting seeds. The open mouth emits sound waves, which then in turn become ripples. The land extends to form a hand supporting the foundation of the soil. It’s rather cyclical, showing ages and stages; there is a beauty and value to each.”
McIntee, a long-time local artist and educator, explained her love for the arts: “To create and express is a wonderful option to promote wellness for an individual or community. I paint with a strong acknowledgement of spirit, nature, wildlife, and water. I have been fortunate to illustrate books, logo designs, retail commissions, and facilitate participatory projects.”
She explained the meaning behind her submission, “The bright colours are uplifting and shine light on the eastern sun rising to a new day. The bald eagle sees life from a higher perspective and carries our prayers. In the image, everyone has a place under the sun. The calm of the Grand River reflects heart ripples of love. The Blue Heron stands strong and is always in the background of our community.”
Shelagh Kiely, Project Coordinator for Hamilton Council on Aging, highlighted some ways the community can help those dealing with dementia:
Be Mindful. Be Kind: Our biggest message is that kindness really does matter. You never know what somebody is experiencing in their day-to-day life, whether it be dementia or something else. We need to work as a community to create more dementia-inclusive spaces.
Get Involved with DICE: Creating a Dementia Inclusive Community for Everyone takes all of us. Contact us about how you can get involved. Stay tuned for more information about our community engagement event and unveiling of the DICE Mural that will take place in September 2022!