‘THE NEW normal.’

It’s a term we’ve heard at length in recent weeks, and it’s something that we’re all adapting to.

Carlton gun Nicola Stevens is no different, and she’s adjusting for the most significant of causes.

This is Stevens’ fourth year as an ambassador for Dementia Australia: an organisation “very close to [her] heart”, with her mum currently living with younger onset dementia.

Dementia Australia represents the 459,000 Australians living with dementia, as well as the 1.6 million people involved in their care.

It was a cause she spoke about at length on the Behind The Game Changers podcast in March.

With the current predicament restricting routine and social interaction, it has made coping with dementia even more difficult for those living with it, both directly and indirectly.

 

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Stevens: A cause close to my heart

Ahead of the annual Memory Walk and Jog, Nicola Stevens speaks about her involvement as an ambassador for Dementia Australia.

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“The journey I’ve been on with my mum has been an interesting one. What we know is it affects everyone differently and it doesn’t just affect the person living with dementia, but family, friends and carers as well,” Stevens said.

“This current situation proves really difficult for everyone across all communities, particularly those living with dementia and families that are involved with someone living with dementia.

“One of the terms that Dementia Australia uses is that even though we’re isolating, it’s really important that we don’t feel isolated. Connection is much more important now than sit ever has been but it just looks a little different.”

One of those ways it “looks a little different” will be the Memory Walk and Jog, an annual initiative run by Dementia Australia. While the 2020 version was initially meant to upgrade to the Alexandra Gardens, the current climate means that won’t be possible.

So, they’re taking it online.

Each year, the Memory Walk and Jog events are held to raise much-needed funds and awareness.

Stevens, who will be partaking in her own tomorrow, said it was a chance to get moving and show support for the cause.

“It would’ve been a phenomenal even to get everyone together… I chose Sunday 3 May because that’s the day I would’ve been there walking around the city,” she said.

“Sunday 3 May would’ve been the Melbourne Memory Walk and Jog but for the new two weeks, up until Sunday 17 May, we’re encouraging everyone to become active in their own neighbourhood.

“We’re encouraging everyone to get active in their communities, in their houses or backyards. Whatever suits them, to get moving and show your support — it will really help people to think they’re not alone, particularly in this time.

“If you can’t do this Sunday or it’s pouring rain and you prefer another day, you’ve got another two weeks to make the most of it and show the support for people around you.”

A Game Changer in every sense, Stevens has said that she embraces the role of bringing people together away from the game: “football is not just about playing football”.

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BTGC Podcast | Stevens opens up about Dementia Australia ambassadorship

Nicola Stevens talks about her ambassador role at Dementia Australia and what it means to her personally.

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She said that the current situation meant that that importance had only been heightened.

“I certainly think so. I think back to four weeks ago when our season was cut short very abruptly,” she said.

“We were in a bit of shock, but we knew that the issue was much bigger than football. We want to be able to take care of our communities and the rest of our families come first.

“Particularly with this event coming up, it’ll be nice to have people think about things outside of football and bring people together that way.”

As mentioned, Stevens will be replacing her footy boots for her virtual Melbourne Memory Walk and Jog tomorrow, and she has set up a page to donate.

All funds raised will support the work of Dementia Australia to provide vital support services for people living with dementia, their families and carers. These services include counselling, support groups, education and training.

You can donate here.