Essex County Council, along with Dementia Action Alliances and many voluntary sector partners across Essex are part of an exciting and rewarding programme of work to support children and young people's dementia-friendly activity that promotes intergenerational outcomes for both young and older across our communities. Through the work of schools to dementia we plan to build on this across the different education sectors, and community groups as we know connecting with our younger generations can lead to lasting change, and support creating dementia-friendly communities for years to come to benefit both young and older generations. Across Essex we are looking at ways to showcase the great examples that schools, and communities are leading on to raise awareness, a selection are included below as part of Dementia Action Week this week.
As a newly awarded Dementia Friendly School, Coopersale and Theydon Garnon CE Primary School are excited to be taking part in this year's Dementia Action Week from 17th-23rd May which is a national event that aims to raise awareness about the disease and help improve the lives of those living with dementia. With 850,000 people in the UK currently living with dementia, this is such an important topic for people of all ages to understand to ensure we are a dementia friendly society where those living with dementia do not feel excluded.
On Thursday 20th May, Miss Usher will be holding an assembly about dementia, then on Friday 21st the whole school will have a 'blue' non-uniform day – blue being the colour of the Forget-Me-Not flower on the dementia logo. In the afternoon, all classes will be completing the 'Memories with Grandma' resource from The Alzheimer's Society, before presenting their findings during our Teams Celebration Assembly, where we will be joined by Ashlar House Care Home residents. We are also pleased to have Maria Blanche, Essex County Council's Dementia Partnership Delivery Lead joining us as a special guest for both assemblies. If you would like any further information, wish to sign the petition to 'cure the care system,' or would like to make a donation for the non-uniform day which will go towards helping improve the lives of those living with dementia, please do so here: Alzheimer's Society Alzheimer's Society - United Against Dementia (alzheimers.org.uk) . Alternatively, you can also find information and make a donation to Dementia UK Specialist support to families facing dementia | Dementia UK
Plume Maldon Community Academy in Mid Essex will proudly be launching the display of their permanent large banner display in Dementia Action week as a superb opportunity to declare their intention in the start of their journey towards becoming a dementia-friendly school, proudly aligning themselves with other local High Street businesses and organisations in Maldon.
St Michael's Junior School started Dementia Action Week with a video call to residents as Manor Lodge Care Home where played a game of 'What would you rather?' enjoyed by all. There will be a whole school Dementia related assembly (filmed and shown in classes), and the filming of a video with year 6 children, who enjoyed the luxury of a year of real visits to Manor Lodge to capture their experience of their dementia friendly work.
Wivenhoe Library in North Essex will be decorating their tree outside with blue ribbons to raise awareness of Dementia. Children from nearby schools and scout clubs to decorate forget-me-not flowers prints out and then deliver them to the library to create a display in the library to bring awareness about Dementia. Age Concern in North East Essex have created good links with schools through their recent 'Project-Postcard' campaign with children drawing pictures to send to care homes and hospitals, which created much joy in creativity for the children and happiness for the older person.
Burnham Primary School and St. Mary's Primary School pupils are busy drawing and colouring in 'forget-me-not' flowers to be displayed in local business shop windows throughout the week to raise awareness supported by United-In-Kind. St. Mary's Primary School have held an assembly and teaching the children about dementia through reading Grandad's Hat together. In Brentwood, Ingrave Johnstone Primary school, Willowbrook primary school and the Endeavour School are some of the schools currently taking part in 'Turn the High Street Blue' for dementia action week
Buttsbury Junior School was Billericay's first primary school to be awarded the Billericay Dementia Friendly Schools Award in June 2020. Children from across the school who are members of the School Council and take other responsibilities within the school became Dementia Friends in 2019/20 as did the teaching staff (on Zoom during the summer lockdown). One of the criteria for the Dementia Friendly Schools Award requires schools to have an ongoing conmitment to being part of Billeriay's Dementia Friendly Community . So in Spring 2021 this year's School Council, House Captains and Core Five attended a session with Maureen Lee, Dementia Champion and became active Dementia Friends, making pledges to share and spread their new knowledge of how dementia can affect families and to reach out in new ways to older people. (another of the criteria for the Award is for children to engage in intergenerational projects and activities). The idea for Buttsbury's current intergenerational project (at a time when the visits they would normally have made to a local day centre for people living with dementia are not possible) came from one of the children. At the end of the Dementia Friends session with Maureen, Jack Green presented her with a Twiddle Muff (to give to someone living with dementia who would enjoy it) which Jack had been making with his Grandma. The muff went that day to a very grateful person. From here, a new project for the Buttsbury Junior school community was launched. The pattern for Twiddle Muffs was shared with parents and grandparents and the Muff Project is under wayThese are the beautiful twiddle muffs received into Buttsbury Junior School during the past few weeks and which will soon be on their way to new homes during Dementia Action Week. The children look so proud (and so they should) and we know that the new owners of the Twiddle Muffs will be delighted.
Quilters Junior School in Billericay are just about to submit their evidence to become a dementia-friendly school, this has seen every child in the Juniors throughout lockdown has writing to their own “older" pen pal in the local community. And now they are all back at school the Pen Pal project remains firmly on the curriculum. This is not a one off, but a true ongoing commitment from the staff and children to reaching out to others, strongly linking with Mind's 5 Ways to Wellbeing (Give, Connect, Take Notice, Be Active, Learn).
The Pen Pals include
- Residents at Anisha Grange, a Hallmark Care Home
- Clients of Right at Home, who provide care and support in clients' own home
- Older people living in and around Billericay
The children have written letters, drawn pictures, sent Christmas and Easter cards and are about to put together their next communication to their Pen Pals. Replies back from the Pen Pals are lovely and it's really clear that they love to receive the children's letters and stories of their pets, best dinners, favourite TV shows and news about what they are doing at school. By the 23rd May all the children will have written their latest letter. Also, something else: all the children, that is more than 240 at Quilters Junior have become Dementia Friends during April 2021 after a series of “year group bubble" sessions with Maureen Lee, Dementia Champion. They all wrote their pledges about how they will share their understanding of how dementia can affect families and how they will do their very best to be as patient and kind as they can to everyone they meet. Before too long the school's intergenerational work with the Memory Café' and Anisha Grange can hopefully begin again with pupils visiting regularly and learning to connect and communicate with others.
We are really keen to hear from schools, if you would like to know more about how to become a 'dementia-friendly' school to support awareness, understanding, and wellbeing between young and older generations in your communities, please contact Maria.Blanche@essex.gov.uk as the Dementia Partnership Delivery Lead to find out more.