A Labor of Love and Generosity

John Frates of Class II wants to bring some happiness to his grandmother and people affected by Alzheimer’s disease, and he has designed and published a book of word-search puzzles just for them.


When John’s grandmother began having more difficulty with her memory and struggled with the standard word-search puzzle books she used to love, John resolved to create puzzles just for her, so she could still feel challenged, but also rewarded when she was successful.


John went beyond using a larger font. He also chose words that were well-known and mostly shorter, and since the diagonal and backward answers often frustrate his grandmother, he decided to limit them to mostly horizontal with a few vertical. For the filler letters he avoids close-match or tricky letter pairings. “For each puzzle, I grouped the words into obvious categories like presidents, cars, spring, and pets,” he explains. “I wanted my grandmother to feel the fun again of finding the words.”


In his introduction to the book, headmaster Kerry Brennan (who is also John’s faculty advisor) wrote, “While it may seem this book is about word searches, it really is about a young man’s love for his grandmother and his clever, persistent commitment to ensuring that she have as much joy in her life as possible.”


All the profits from the sales of John’s book (available at amazon.com) go directly to the Alzheimer’s Association, which is dedicated to Alzheimer’s research and supporting people living with dementia as well as their caregivers.