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Comprehensive is city's first Dementia Friendly School

A comprehensive in Swansea has become the first in the city to be officially recognised as a Dementia Friendly School.

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Pupils at Pontarddulais Comprehensive and their teachers have been presented with the award by the Alzheimer's Society.

Awareness sessions and whole school assemblies have helped everyone at the school to understand more about dementia.

And a group of pupils has been visiting older people at Swansea Council's Hollies Care Home in an initiative that has proved hugely beneficial to all.

They took part in a digital storytelling project where the young people joined the residents in exploring issues around being young and old so they could learn from each other by telling their stories.

Residents at the home said it had been a joy to mix with the pupils and staff said the residents' faces would light up when the students visited.

Helen Davies, manager at The Hollies, said: "There have been many magical moments including one, when one of our residents was looking on as a young girl was playing the piano. She began smiling and walked over to her and the pupil moved across the seat and invited her to play too. She played a little and they were both enjoying themselves. Our resident looked on as if she had taught the young girl like she used to teacher others many years ago.

"There was another day the residents and children were outside enjoying tea and cakes and it was lovely to hear the residents sharing their school and everyday stories with the pupils."

Pupil Lily Rees said: "'I enjoyed the Dementia Friendly project because I was able to interact with people that I didn't think I would be able to."

Another, Ryan Lewis, added: ''I think helping at The Hollies was a great experience and I hope future year groups can get involved.''

Due to the success of the project, opportunities to support people living with dementia has been embedded into the Welsh Baccalaureate at Pontarddulais Comprehensive and the school has included a visit to The Hollies as an option for pupils during their community challenge in the Welsh Baccalaureate.

According to the Alzheimer's Society a third of young people know someone living with dementia and, with over two million people developing dementia in the next ten years, most people will know someone affected by the condition in their lifetime.

The charity wants every young person to understand what it's like to live with dementia and to help it make a dementia friendly generation by teaching pupils about dementia.

Swansea Council's Cabinet Member for Education Improvement, Learning and Skills, Jennifer Raynor said: "I'm very proud that Pontarddulais Comprehensive School is the first in Swansea to achieve this award and I'd congratulate pupils and staff."

Cabinet Member for Care, Health & Ageing Well, Mark Child, said: "I'm delighted that residents at The Hollies have benefited from this scheme and I'd like to thank the team there as well as the council's Life Stages Team, Adult Social Services and People Speak Up, for making this possible.

"All council employees and councillors undergo dementia awareness training and it is great to see our schools getting involved in the Dementia Friendly School initiative."

Bishopston Primary School is the other pilot school to have taken part in the project so far and seven more schools - St Joseph's Cathedral Primary School, Burlais Primary School, Sketty Primary School, St Thomas Community School, Gendros Primary School, Cadle Primary School and Knelston Primary School are due to start in September.

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