Joani Beale has been a volunteer Dementia Friends Champions since 2016. Here she tells us why she's passionate about reaching young people with Dementia Friends (and she gives us her top tips for keeping children engaged during the Session).

Joani Mitchell - Champion Experience_smaller.jpg

'I strongly believe we need to educate future generations and a lot of my Dementia Friends Sessions have been delivered to school children – both primary and secondary school.  

'I first managed to get into a school to deliver a Dementia Friends Session because the community where I live in Greenmount Village wanted to do something to raise awareness about dementia. I was asked to go into the local Primary school to run Dementia Friends for the whole school, which took two days! The school were fantastic and really got a lot from the Sessions.

'From there, the Head Teacher informed other schools about the Sessions at a local cluster meeting and then other schools got in touch with me. So far, I have delivered Sessions to children and staff from Reception to year 8 and I’ve recently been asked to deliver Dementia Friends to a complete high school – dates yet to be arranged! 

'It’s always worth using the contacts you have (or make when you deliver Sessions) to help you promote Dementia Friends even further. You have to use word of mouth and be prepared to take the opportunities when they arise.

'A tip to keep the children engaged during your Sessions would be to make sure you keep it lively and interactive using the visuals like the bookcase and the picture of the brain maintains interest and enthusiasm. The actions that children suggest at the end of the session for how they can support people living with dementia are truly amazing and demonstrate just how much they have understood the key messages. 

'When I ask - “How many key messages?” - I always get the enthusiastic chorus “FIVE!” back from the class.

'Quite often when I’m spotted out in my village, children and parents will come and talk to me about when I visited their school and how it raised topics for discussion at home and / or resonated with them because of the experience of a relative.'

Thanks for sharing Joani!