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Sidmouth students to become ‘Dementia Friends’

11:00 20 January 2014

Youngsters at Sidmouth College will break down barriers and help vulnerable elderly residents in a pioneering scheme to create a dementia-friendly generation.

The school is to be among the first in the country to take advantage of an inter-generational initiative aimed at seeing children bring benefits to sufferers of the debilitating illness.

Pupils will be encouraged to become ‘Dementia Friends’ and sport special badges to show they can share an insight into dementia with their family and friends.

The project will see the college work with the Sid Valley Memory Café.

Teacher Lisa Whitworth said: “With more and more people developing dementia every day, it is likely young people will experience the condition in their lifetime – whether it is a grandparent, a parent, or even themselves.

“Our first cohort of Dementia Friends will help other pupils understand that little bit more about what it’s like to live with dementia – and then turn that understanding into action by helping to make the lives of people a little bit better.”

Year 10 health and social care students will be the first to be awarded the ‘forget-me-not’ badge to show they know about dementia and to provoke conversation about their role in creating a dementia-friendly generation.

They will visit the memory café, and patients and their carers are due to attend a memory day at the school over the summer.

As well as benefiting the community, the link-up will also form a valuable part of their GCSEs.

Dementia Friends champion Rachel Johnstone, who will be giving the induction, said: “Less than half of us think we know enough about dementia, and many more are unsure of how best to support a loved one with the condition.

“The session will include a range of meaningful inter-generational activities to help break down barriers, ensure young people don’t ‘fear’ dementia and provide some very practical ways to improve the lives of people living with dementia by spending ‘quality time’ with them.”

Dementia Friends is an Alzheimer’s Society initiative, and it hopes there will be a million trainees around the country by 2015.

In less than 10 years, more than a million people are predicted to be living with dementia.

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