TV PRESENTER Angela Rippon is urging schools to follow the example of a Wearside primary.
The broadcast icon paid tribute to the work of Bernard Gilpin Primary School for their ground-breaking campaign to create a dementia-friendly community in Houghton.
I really think they can inspire an entire generation to change attitudes for the better.Angela Rippon
Angela, an ambassador of the Alzheimer’s Society, said she was proud to be associated with the Sunderland school and wants others to follow in its footsteps.
The television star spoke out as the Alzheimer’s Society and Public Health England released results of the first ever poll of young people’s attitudes to dementia, which revealed a third would feel uncomfortable talking to someone with the condition.
However, more than half believed that if people understood more about the condition and how to help, life would improve for those affected.
Bernard Gilpin Primary, in Hall Lane, Houghton, has made key steps towards reducing the stigma that results in many people with dementia experiencing loneliness and social exclusion, by becoming Dementia Friends and opening up their doors to those affected.
Angela said: “Bernard Gilpin Primary School pupils are setting tremendous examples for their fellow students across the North East and I really think they can inspire an entire generation to change attitudes for the better.
“They are growing up with the knowledge and understanding necessary to get rid of the taboo that is attached to dementia as well as the social isolation and loneliness that rub salt into wounds for families affected by the condition.
“We’re hoping to achieve an entire dementia-friendly generation who will understand what dementia is and who will not be afraid or frightened by the disease so there won’t be a stigma attached to it in the future.
“It’s encouraging to know we are heading in the right direction because of the sterling Dementia Friends work the staff and students are doing at Bernard Gilpin.”
The school has won awards for its work that involves activities such as Singing for the Brain music therapy sessions and hosting Dementia Cafes.
Angela added: “The fact they have really embraced the Dementia Friends initiative and they love interacting with the older generation is great for the kids, great for the school and great for the community.”
Bob Heron, former Sunderland mayor and chairman of governors at Bernard Gilpin and whose late mother had dementia, said: “Young people hold the key to what our society will look like in the future and we want it to be a dementia-friendly one.”
To support the ambition to create a dementia-friendly generation, Alzheimer’s Society has launched a new section on its website www.alzheimers.org.uk/youngpeople aimed at teachers, youth group leaders, young people and parents.