Hand in hand: inclusion & nostalgia on the West Coast

Hand in hand: inclusion & nostalgia on the West Coast

The question "Do you remember?" or, as they say in West Flanders, "Wit jet nog?" is often the beginning of a trip down memory lane that brings a smile and maybe a tear. Now in De Panne, Koksijde, Nieuwpoort and Veurne, you can actually take a nostalgic walk with the ErfgoedApp entitled ... 'Wit jet nog'. The four cities are connected by the cultural partnership Viertoren, which has realized these four routes together with Alzheimer's League Flanders.

The memory walk starts in each municipality at the local residential care center, which of course is no coincidence: everything is tailored to persons with dementia and their caregivers. By combining historical photographs with real locations, hidden memories can be reactivated or ... make way for new ones.

The initiators of the remembrance walks on the Zeedijk in De Panne © Sara Broucke

The photos are supported by a word of explanation about the history of the place, which appears automatically via GPS points on the mapped route. Each point ends with a few questions that can spark a conversation. At the Sint-Pietersschool in De Panne, for example, a photo of the teaching staff from 1979 appears, followed by the question 'Did you go to school here? / Which school did you go to? The focus is on reliving everyday life, with topics such as school life, childhood, the evolution of the coastal streetcar or bum carts ...

Left: St. Peter's College, 1979 © Westhoek Verbeeldt.be. Right: St. Peter's School anno 2021 © Anna-Livia Smekens

In Koksijde, at the point "New Town Hall," a photo of the old tennis courts appears. Once they were right on the site of the current town hall. A tennis tournament still takes place there every summer. The app also tells you about the stately casino building and its ambiance. Questions like "Did you play tennis here yourself?" or "Did you come to party at the old casino in the past?" get walkers thinking.

Links: Tennis courts Koksijde © Westhoek Verbeeldt.be. Right: Tennis tournament Koksijde © Gilles, D.

By the way, the tours are not exclusively reserved for people with dementia and their caregivers. Anyone can explore with them, including you! The tours immerse you in the vibrant history of the resorts and the hinterland and help you visualize the last drastic 100 years. History buff, tourist or student, young or old ... the tour offers something for everyone and offers equal pleasure to all. Moreover, you cross a large part of the city in a targeted way; depending on the tour you walk about 3 to 5 kilometers. For those for whom this distance is too long, there is the option to do only a few points, the app in no way hinders an alternative route.

Screenshot ErfgoedApp: White jet yet (De Panne)

For those who are wedded to the city, in my case De Panne, the app obviously contains a lot of nostalgic ingredients in addition to an educational element. Every vacation, my family returned to the childhood home of my mother, a true Panne native. While walking the tour, I forwarded her several pictures. After I forwarded her an old photo of Place Jeanne d'Arc, she called me. She said - no pun intended - "White jet still? That you stole the show there, with your gymnasts and your sun hat on?".


Would you like to explore with "White Jet Yet? Then download the ErfgoedApp in the App Store or via Google Play and download one or more of the four tours. If you would like to have a paper version of this tour available, you can borrow it. Please contact Viertoren to do so.