Pioneering students at a Northumberland school have taken the fight against dementia into new territory with a national first.
Blyth Academy sixth formers have boosted the battle against the disease by becoming the youngest people in England to be Dementia Friends Champions.
In an unprecedented move, ten students became the first people who are aged under 18 to become Dementia Friends Champions when they teamed up with Alzheimer’s Society staff at the school.
It is part of an initiative led by the society to create a one-million strong army of Dementia Friends whose greater awareness will enable people with the disease to live well within their communities.
Blyth Academy is part of a special pilot project that has seen 16 and 17-year-olds being trained as Dementia Friends Champions.
This now means they can lead special awareness sessions for people wanting to join the social movement.
It is the latest chapter in the school’s bid to help people with dementia through working with the Alzheimer’s Society that saw students and staff become Dementia Friends last term and has sparked a range of activities to help those with the condition.
Academy pupil Laura Wilks, 17, said she had been spurred to act after seeing the impact it can have on her own family.
“My grandma on my dad’s side of the family had dementia when she died and so I sadly realise what a devastating disease it can be,” Laura said.
“It’s as if you lose the person through dementia but they are still there with you, and it has a big impact on everyone around them.
“That’s why I want to raise awareness of dementia so people of all ages have a better understanding of what it’s all about.”
Academy principal Alison Jobling added: “They really are pioneering students and we are all immensely proud of the inspirational way they have rallied behind the fight against dementia.
“This has been a real statement of intent from the students and underlines their determination to bolster the fight against dementia.
“We are committed to helping to improve the lives of people in and around Blyth who are living with dementia and their loved ones and that students have signalled their desire to make a positive difference in the strongest possible way.”