Paris FBLA students, in support of a charity called Dolls For Dementia, handed out dolls in Alzheimer’s units at two area nursing homes in recent weeks.

Dolls were passed out at Greenhurst Nursing Home and at Paris Health and Rehabilitation Center. At PHR, between 70 and 80 people, including students, heard Betsy Broyles Arnold and her daughter Molly Arnold-Gay, daughter and granddaughter of former University of Arkansas Athletic Director and football coach Frank Broyles, discuss the disease and offer suggestions to caregivers of dementia patients.

Broyles’ first wife Barbara died after suffering from dementia and the Barbara and Frank Broyles Foundation was started shortly after and funds Caregivers United, which provides support for dementia patients and caregivers. The two women travel the U.S. giving addresses to dementia caregivers.

Dolls for Dementia was started by Paris High School freshman Emily Richey and FBLA has taken up supporting the charity as a project.

According to Richey’s father, Dr. Jason Richey, "Doll therapy has been known to give patients suffering from dementia the feeling of having a purpose. The patient may care for the doll as they would a baby, such as feeding it, changing it, dressing it or simply holding it. This may revert them back to a pleasant time in their lives when they were younger and taking care of their own children. Studies show this type of therapy can produce a calming effect on the patient.

With the FBLA’s help, Emily Richey staged events in the Paris School District that raised nearly $4,000 to purchase dolls for patients. That has caused her to raise her goal of providing 50 dolls this year to 100, she said.

"When we gave them their dolls, their eyes just lit up," Richey said. "On lady got her doll and smiled and the nurse told us ‘I can’t remember the last time she smiled.’ Another women told us she didn’t have the money to take care of a baby right now and asked us to find someone in the church to care for it."

Both Broyles Arnold and Arnold-Gay had praise for what the students are doing.

"What these kids are learning through Dolls for Dementia is a life lesson," Arnold-Gay said. "You are going to be able to impact people for years and years to come."

"We’re hear to celebrate what Emily and the others are doing," Arnold said. "I told her earlier that I wish I’d thought of it."