Hundreds of students and teachers have taken part in information sessions to raise awareness about the impact of dementia in the community.

Haughton Academy students have been addressing the issue in tutor time as part of Dementia Action Week, an Alzheimer’s Society campaign.

Dementia Friendly Darlington is currently working with people affected including local communities, businesses and services.

More than 800 students across all year groups at Haughton Academy, part of the Education Village, have taken part in live on-line sessions led by Belinda Williams, the Dementia Friendly Communities Co-ordinator for Darlington.

Students decided on the best way to support the social action movement and came up with ideas including fund raising, a range of practical steps they could take and ways to raise awareness to inspire everyone to be more understanding of people living with dementia.

Belinda said: “People living with dementia face social isolation now more than ever. Becoming a dementia friend is a unique and important opportunity to learn more about how it affects people. Armed with that understanding, the actions we take can support, include and actively involve people affected by dementia in our communities.

“Creating a dementia-friendly generation is crucial to changing the way we think, talk and act about dementia.”

According to the Alzheimer’s Society, nearly one in three young people know someone living with dementia and while it was once a grandparent, increasingly it could now be a parent.

Darlington Borough councillor for Haughton Chris McEwan, who has championed making Darlington more dementia-friendly throughout his career, said: “To become dementia-friendly isn’t about the NHS and local authorities writing a plan, it’s about initiatives that raise awareness.

“I think what Haughton Academy has done is spectacular. Having over 800 students take the training in one go is an amazing effort and it’s fantastic to see them get behind this.

“Those children will influence others and show them how to display compassion. This is a huge step in creating a cross-generational understanding of this terrible disease.”

Assistant headteacher at Haughton Academy Fiona Campbell has been the driving force behind the school campaign. She said: “I’m really pleased so many of our students took part in the training. Our tutor sessions over Dementia Action Week have been all about raising awareness and it’s been amazing to see our students turn their new-found knowledge into actionable personal commitments to make a difference.”

For more information about Dementia Friendly Darlington contact belinda.williams@alzheimers.org.uk, 07483 137521, or visit www.dementiafriends.org.uk and www.alzheimers.org.uk/dementiafriendlycommunities.