Pipo's Adventures: Teaching Kids About Brain Health and Dementia

In this perspective, Atlantic Fellow Luis Martinez shares his journey of creating a children's book featuring his cat, Pipo, to help kids understand brain health and dementia.

Luis Martinez and his children's book, "Pipo, Don't forget me"

Image courtesy of Luis Martinez.

Sharing Brain Health with All Ages

I love participating in community outreach events as part of my work. I strive to share my passion for brain health and promote healthy habits to protect our precious neurons. Typically I feel confident discussing these topics with adults as they already have some knowledge about protecting their brains and preventing diseases like Alzheimer's and other types of dementia. However, I vividly remember a time when my confidence was challenged. During a community event, some curious and kind children approached me and asked about dementia.

I found myself explaining the concept of dementia to them in the middle of the event, using an improvised brain drawing with colorful markers on a tissue. After the event, I reflected on the need to find different ways to convey our educational information to different age groups. Children are naturally drawn to bright colors and creativity, and I find it rewarding to facilitate their learning process in a creative way.

Children are naturally drawn to bright colors and creativity, and I find it rewarding to facilitate their learning process in a creative way.

—Luis Martinez, Atlantic Fellow for Equity in Brain Health

Inspired by Pipo: Creating a Heartwarming Story

Pipo was the name of my cat, who passed away a year ago. I often reflect on how animals can provide emotional support and companionship. When Pipo passed away, I started remembering his cute face and all the friendly orange cats that I've come across. However, from my perspective, Pipo's face was different. It was tender, extra curious, and almost like a cartoon. His passing inspired me to start drawing his cute face and explore digital art, which was new to me.

As an artist, I was familiar with paints, canvas, and colors, but Pipo was different. I envisioned Pipo as a cartoon character, and even better, I envisioned Pipo with the purpose of teaching and connecting with kids. I delved into children's books that I had never read before, connected with the details of the illustrations, and started to admire the beautiful details of the illustrations that are often overlooked. The result: I created a book for kids with love and responsibility.

With the book, I highlight how the characters Pipo and Mrs. Sarah, an older woman with memory challenges, interact and live together. Despite her memory complaints, Mrs. Sarah and Pipo maintain a routine and help each other. In the end, Pipo had a lovely plan to help Mrs. Sarah, and Mrs. Sarah teaches Pipo that even if the mind forgets sometimes, the heart always remembers. I feel close to Mrs. Sarah, Pipo, and the parents who want to start a conversation with their kids about what dementia is and how to help when someone with memory complaints. I think we can teach our kids how to be like Pipo – kind, lovely, and patient – which can help, heal, and improve our quality of life.

This storybook consists of 75 pages filled with colorful illustrations and is perfect for children aged 4 -9. It's available in English, Spanish, and soon in Hindi and comes in Hardcover and Paperback editions.

The book is now available here