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A range of activities will be taking place at ARC to coincide with Dementia Awareness week which, including an arts based exhibition by members of Creative Age, information stalls from the Alzheimer’s Society and engaging Dementia Friends sessions.

Weekly Creative Age sessions are held at ARC for people living with early stage dementia, and current members of the group, which also includes carers, have created an exciting range of art pieces which are now on display at ARC as part of a free exhibition until Saturday 28 May.

Other activities at ARC include drop in sessions throughout the week from Alzheimer’s Society, who will be handing out leaflets and providing information on their services.

Dementia Friends sessions will also be taking place throughout the week. The sessions will last 45 minutes and will be delivered by ‘champions’ to raise awareness of Dementia with the general public, you can become a Dementia Friend by signing up online (www.dementiafriends.org.uk).

Artist and theatre maker Zoe Murtagh will be asking people about their favourite songs and places and any feedback will be included in her brand new play, Lamppost Petition, which will be performed at ARC later in the year.

Debbie Smith is the daughter of one of the weekly participants of Creative Age, an 18-month project devised by creative ageing charity Equal Arts. She said:

“I would like to thank ARC and the artists very much for the work they do with my Mum at the Creative Age sessions.

“At the end of last year, my Mum received a diagnosis of frontal temporal dementia. She has always enjoyed being creative and when she got the opportunity to go on a Tuesday to the class we were delighted. I can’t put into words what it means to her and our family, it is something she loves. I love to speak to Mum on a Tuesday after the class, I hear her excitement as she recounts what she has done and reads me her poem or composition. It feels as though the group and activities were tailor made for her and they seem to challenge her and tap into her inner most resources without over whelming her. It gives Mum confidence in a really positive way.”

Annabel Turpin, Chief Executive of ARC said:

“Creative Age is a vital arts-led opportunity, and people have been enjoying attending the sessions here since September 2015. The topics that are covered are so varied and so engaging, and we have received excellent feedback from attendees and their companions alike.”

All activities will be taking place at ARC and form part of the venue’s commitment to proving accessible, arts-led activities to all.

Devised by Equal Arts, Creative Age champions the vital role creativity has to play in improving wellbeing for those living with dementia and their carers.

Douglas Hunter, Equal Arts co-director, said: “There is a growing understanding that creativity is intact long after other cognitive functions decline. Moving away from reminiscence, Creative Age instead focuses on the Imagination Model, exploring people’s ideas and being creative.

“This initiative is a huge step forward for the North East in terms of providing arts provision for people living with dementia.”

The artist-led project is also running at MIMA in Middlesbrough, BALTIC in Gateshead, National Glass Centre, Arts Centre Washington and Lakeland Arts.

If you or a family member or friend would be interested in attending Creative Age classes at ARC, or if you would like to find out more about any of the Dementia Awareness activities taking place at ARC this week, contact alison.watson@arconline.co.uk