PUPILS have been praised after a new facility was opened to involve dementia sufferers in school life.
Bernard Gilpin School, in Houghton, has opened its new Living Room – which will host a number of dementia-friendly activities, showing that young people can have time for those with the condition.
An inter-generational choir and dancing welcomed dementia sufferers at the official opening.
The Hall Lane school is one of just 21 schools nationwide that is part of Prime Minister David Cameron’s Challenge on Dementia, which aims to revolutionise the way people think about the condition.
Sunderland Mayor, Bob Heron, who is also the school’s chair of governors, said: “The school is a real shining beacon for people living with dementia and their carers. The staff and pupils have really embraced this whole initiative with terrific enthusiasm. It is a really forward-thinking school and this shows that it wants to play a key role in the surrounding community.
“There are a huge amount of great things going on at the school, and the Living Room is the result of a lot of hard work behind the scenes. It makes me proud to be the chair of governors at Bernard Gilpin Primary School. It shows they really care about their community.”
Monthly Singing for the Brain sessions will be held, using music as a form of therapy, and a Dementia Cafe provides a relaxed environment for sufferers and their carers to get together with Alzheimer’s Society staff.
The school’s Living Room project manager, Fiona Bridle, said: “We’ve been really impressed with the enthusiasm and interest our pupils have shown in dementia as a whole. The number of people who have dementia is on the rise, but there is still a stigma attached to the condition and we all want to tackle it. It is more and more likely that families in our community will experience dementia, and this is a way of increasing awareness and understanding.
“The Living Room is about giving something back to our community and telling the children what dementia is all about and how we can help people with dementia live well within the community.”
Alzheimer’s Society operations manager Danielle Hayes said: “Bernard Gilpin really seems to be leading by example when it comes to making our communities dementia-friendly.
“The Living Room is an excellent project and we’re really excited about it opening up because it will be a great facility for the rising number of people in the Houghton area who have dementia and their carers.”