Pinwheel garden on Tulsa college campus honors Alzheimer’s victims

TULSA, Okla. — Tulsa Community College (TCC) is raising awareness for Alzheimer’s disease with a pinwheel garden.

TCC presented their Alzheimer’s Awareness Garden Wednesday morning, honoring 1,780 Oklahomans who lost their lives to Alzheimer’s or dementia in 2021.

TCC students, faculty and staff “planted” 178 pinwheel flowers, each representing 100 lives lost in Oklahoma. The garden is located on the Southeast Campus behind the Student Success Center near East 81st Street and South Mingo Road in south Tulsa.

Dr. Laura Garrett, an assistant professor at TCC and volunteer community educator for the Alzheimer’s Association, said about 30 students volunteered to help plant the pinwheels.

“This is a vision that I had last year. I really wanted to get college students involved in the process,” said Garrett. “Everybody’s come together to work to this.”

According to the Alzheimer’s Association, Alzheimer’s disease is a type of brain disease caused by damage to nerve cells in the brain that are responsible for memory, language and thinking.

An estimated 6.5 million Americans age 65 and older are living with Alzheimer’s and dementia in 2022. One in three seniors dies with Alzheimer’s or another dementia.

Garrett said it’s important to remember it’s not just those living with Alzheimer’s that are suffering.

“When you think about how many caregivers are touched by this, or family members, then it’s exponentially larger than that,” said Garrett. “We’ll have students here that have been touched by Alzheimer’s disease, as well as our staff and faculty who may be silently caretaking for someone with Dementia.”

Garrett described the different colors of pinwheels as representing different groups affected by the Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, including those suffering from it, caregivers, supporters of Alzheimer’s Association and those who have lost someone to Alzheimer’s.

“We’re also here to celebrate what’s happening with working toward the cure, and someday we hope to have a white flower out there which means a person has been cured from Alzheimer’s.”

There is currently no cure for Alzheimer’s disease.

September is recognized as World Alzheimer’s Month. TCC students will also volunteer with the Alzheimer’s Association at the Walk to End Alzheimer’s on Saturday. A party before the walk starts at 7:45 a.m. at Dream Keepers Park at West 21st Street and South Boulder Avenue in midtown Tulsa. The ceremony and walk begin at 9 a.m.