A school on a mission to make a difference

Photo by Aaron Dodwell – Kingfisher Photography

Students at Dinnington High School have been taking action to help their school and community become more dementia-friendly.

When Rotherham Dementia Action Alliance (DAA) was set up, the Alliance decided upon a number of different sectors they wanted to work on to become more dementia-friendly. One of these sectors were schools and colleges and Louise Booker-Parkinson, Health & Social Care Lead for Dinnington High School, attended an Alliance meeting. Kathryn Rawling, DAA Co-ordinator, says that Louise ‘completely got it – joined the alliance and set off on a mission!’

This mission involved a range of activity taking place at Dinnington High School to help support people living with dementia. Seven students became young Dementia Friends Champions as part of the pilots run to create under 18 Champions. Those Champions then went on to deliver Information Sessions to other pupils and created over 400 Dementia Friends!

Photo by Aaron Dodwell – Kingfisher Photography

The school also arranged fundraisers such as sponsored walks and bag packs to help raise money and awareness assemblies where pupils and staff could learn about a range of different dementia-related issues including assistive technology, fire safety and Alzheimer’s Society support services. It really was a whole school effort, with student Aaron Dodwell, using his photography skills to capture some great shots of some of the new Dementia Friends.

Louise believes that schools are well placed to increase awareness of dementia in the community:

‘It is really important that schools such as Dinnington High School are used as the key central area to promote dementia awareness within local communities. They have the ability to reach out to the rest of the community in terms of their immediate friends and families. And some students have also regularly visited Dementia Cafes and become actively involved as part of their coursework. This in turn has also led to the students becoming more involved with local care homes with some students now starting regular work experience there.’

Kathryn says that involving schools in supporting people living with dementia is vital:

‘To embed the work of Dementia Friends and Dementia Action Alliances we desperately need to make this part of the work of the schools, colleges, youth groups, scouts and more. That way we can help to build a dementia-friendly generation.’

‘The number of pupils this will have impacted is impressive in itself, the publicity for the school is fantastic and will really help towards reducing the stigma of dementia in the community.’

Louise Swingler, DAA Project Manager: Yorkshire and Humber said:

Photo by Aaron Dodwell – Kingfisher Photography

‘There are currently 23 Dementia Action Alliances across Yorkshire & Humber – and this wonderful piece of work at Dinnington High School is a great example of the positive impact they can have on their communities – raising awareness of dementia and challenging the negative stereotypes that sometimes exist. Any organisation can join an DAA – we have fire and rescue, shops, libraries, solicitors, the police, banks, and theatres to name just a few. Anyone is welcome – as long as they want to help us to make the world a more welcoming place for people who are living with dementia – a world where they can live independently and take a full part in the community they live in.’

To find out more about Dementia Friends visit dementiafriends.org.uk

To get involved with your Local Dementia Action Alliance, visit the website.

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