Hand in hand: inclusion & nostalgia on the West Coast

Hand in hand: inclusion & nostalgia on the West Coast

The question "Do you still remember?" or, as they say in West Flanders, "Wit jet nog?" is often the start of a trip down memory lane that evokes a smile and perhaps a tear. In De Panne, Koksijde, Nieuwpoort and Veurne, you can now take the ErfgoedApp for a nostalgic walk entitled ... 'Wit jet nog'. The four cities are linked by the cultural partnership Viertoren that has realised these four routes together with Alzheimer's League Flanders.

The remembrance walk starts in each municipality at the local residential care centre, which is of course no coincidence: everything is tailor-made for people with dementia and their carers. By combining historical photos with real locations, hidden memories can be reactivated or ... make way for new ones.

The initiators of the memorial 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 automatically appears on the mapped out route via GPS points. Each point ends with a few questions that can spark off a conversation. At the Sint-Pietersschool in De Panne, for example, a photo of the 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 daily life, with subjects such as school life, childhood, the evolution of the coastal tram or the 'bum carts'.

On the left: Sint-Pieterscollege, 1979 © Westhoek Verbeeldt.be. Right: Sint-Pietersschool anno 2021 © Anna-Livia Smekens

In Koksijde, at the 'New Town Hall' point, a photo of the old tennis courts appears. Once upon a time they were right on the spot of the present town hall. Even now, a tennis tournament still takes place there every summer. The app also tells about the stately casino building and the accompanying ambiance. Questions such as "Did you play tennis here yourself?" or "Did you come to party in the old casino in the past?" get the walkers thinking.

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

The tours are not exclusively reserved for people with dementia and their carers. Anyone can use them to explore, including you! The tours immerse you in the vibrant history of the seaside resorts and the hinterland and help you to visualise the last drastic 100 years. History lover, tourist or student, young or old ... the tour offers something for everyone and is equally enjoyable. Moreover, you cross a large part of the city in a targeted manner; depending on the tour you walk about 3 to 5 kilometres. For those for whom this distance is too long, there is the option to do only a few points; the app does not prevent you from taking an alternative route.

Screenshot ErfgoedApp: Wit jet nog (De Panne)

For those who are attached to the city, in my case De Panne, the app contains not only an educational element, but also a lot of nostalgic ingredients. Every holiday, my family returned to the parental home of my mother, a true Pannenaar. While walking the tour, I sent her several photos. After I sent her an old picture of the Jeanne d'Arc square, she called me. She said - no pun intended - "Remember the white jet? That you stole the show there, with your gymnastics shoes and your sun hat on?".


Would you like to explore with 'Wit jet nog'? Then download the ErfgoedApp from 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 the tour, you can borrow it. Please contact Viertoren to do so.