Great Lakes Council’s 21 day Brain Challenge for Alzheimers

IT seems that the issue of “time” was the biggest challenge within the Councils “21 day Brain Challenge”.
Three of Great Lakes Council’s leaders have all but completed their Brain Challenge to raise awareness of dementia, which required them to exercise their brains every day for 21 days.

UPDATE:
After realising early in the Challenge that they were all struggling to devote time each day to their personal challenge, they have emerged at the end of the challenge with some remarkable insights into their own mental habits and some valuable new resolve.
Cr Leigh Vaughan who’s challenge was to learn new fingering patterns on the cello, said, “My greatest realisation during this Challenge was how much I need regular daily practice again, as opposed to ‘when I have time’.”
“Music making is the very best way to keep the brain active. It uses both sides of the brain and incorporates mind, body and spirit at every level.”
Leigh said, “It’s never to late to pick up an instrument.”
Council’s General Manager Glenn Handford, pledged to study the chess openings from the grand masters.
He said, ‘The greatest challenge for me has been finding the time each day to dedicate to the task. It’s necessary to devote time and analyse the puzzle in order to really understand the opening.”
“My greatest realisation can be summed up as never bite off more than you can chew,” said Glenn.
Finally, Steve Embry set his challenge, to practice a complex piece of music every day for an hour.
“I have overpromised and under delivered! Given my other commitments I was overly ambitious in setting my targets for the three week challenge.”
“The time commitment was the big challenge – some of the tough brain work when I just couldn’t get a particular part of the tune right was frustrating and it is easy to give up – pushing through gives rewards but some days it is just too hard,” said Steve.
“I felt I should stretch myself however in hindsight I should have been more realistic.
Raising awareness of Alzheimer’s Disease was the main focus of the challenge and Council did well to have assisted the cause.

Three of Great Lakes Council’s leaders have all but completed their Brain Challenge to raise awareness of dementia, which required them to exercise their brains every day for 21 days.

After realising early in the Challenge that they were all struggling to devote time each day to their personal challenge, they have emerged at the end of challenge with some remarkable insights into their own mental habits and some valuable new resolve.

 Cr Leigh Vaughan’s Challenge:  Learn new fingering patterns on celloLeigh Vaughan Great Lakes Council

My greatest realisation during this Challenge was how much I need regular daily practice again, as opposed to “when I have time”.

My greatest personal challenge was accepting that I had to go back to basics and spend much time on the long and slow discipline of pitch and tone (always when there is no one around as it does not sound very good).

At the beginning I hoped that the Challenge would become a long-time commitment and hopefully it has.  Making time every day to practice the technical stuff is the hardest.

Making time for myself every day and getting back to the self-discipline of my student days has been a very difficult thing to do!

Music making is the very best way to keep the brain active.  It uses both sides of the brain and incorporates mind, body and spirit at every level.  It’s a wonderful way to engage with the community (by joining a group to sing or play anything) and to feed one’s spirit.

It is never too late to pick up an instrument or join a group!

Raising awareness of Alzheimer’s Disease and dementia has been my challenge.  I hope it will be ongoing.

Glenn Handford’s Challenge:  Chess: study the openings from the grand masters

The greatest challenge for me has been finding the time each day to dedicate to the task.  It’s necessary to devote time and analyse the puzzle in order to really understand the opening.Glenn Handford Great Lakes Council

My greatest realisation can be summed up as “never bite off more than you can chew”.

After completing the Challenge myself, I thoroughly recommend that everyone should find something that they enjoy and that will mentally stimulate them, and devote some regular time to it.

Steve Embry’s Challenge:  Practice a complex piece of music every day for an hour

I have overpromised and under delivered!  Given my other commitments I was overly ambitious in setting my targets for the three week challenge.

The time commitment was the big challenge – some of the tough brain work when I just couldn’t get a particular part of the tune right was frustrating and it is easy to give up – pushing through gives rewards but some days it is just too hard.Steve Embry Great Lakes Council

I felt I should stretch myself however in hindsight I should have been more realistic.  I am not overly concerned about this as the challenge has enabled me to realise that I do have some spare capacity in my busy days so I have the ability to use that time to train my brain while also achieving some worthwhile and challenging outcomes.

Oh and I can play Sting’s “Fragile” much better than I could before!

I will continue to set aside some (realistic) time to practice guitar each week and try to learn new skills – that’s the good thing about guitar – there is always plenty to learn and practice.

I will also take the lessons of the challenge through my 50s and into my 60s to keep the brain as active as possible – it actually feels great when you achieve some progress on a tough task.

The 21 day challenge was quite a challenge. I am glad I did it and I will take the lessons with me into the future.  I am convinced more than ever of the importance of keeping the brain active.  It’s not easy but brain health is as important as physical health – in my view. : Great Lakes Councillor Leigh Vaughan, General Manager Glenn Handford and Director of Corporate and Community Services Steve Embry

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