ONE thousand students at Poole High School had their eyes opened to the reality of life with dementia thanks to an initiative by the Alzheimer’s Society.

Every student in the school took part in awareness workshops with the charity on Friday, becoming ‘Dementia Friends.’ It was a record number to do so at one time since the scheme was launched in February last year.

With help from local dementia ‘champions’, students took part in a range of exercises demonstrating the effect of dementia on people’s everyday lives. The Alzheimer’s Society visited the school with its Dementia Community Roadshow as part of the school’s health fair, which included stalls from a number of charities and organisations.

The charity has set out to create one million Dementia Friends by 2015 in a bid to make the nation more dementia-friendly and improve the lives of the 650,000 people currently living with the condition in the UK.

Fan Heafield, headteacher of Poole High, said: “This is a cause that is very close to my heart. All young people need to learn and understand how dementia impacts on lives and how they can support both those who have this condition and those who care for people with dementia.

“We are delighted to be working alongside the Alzheimer’s Society and Dementia Friends, as it will give a further focus and drive to our future work in this area.”

Derek Dodd, from the Alzheimer’s Society, said: “Less than half of us think we know enough about dementia. Dementia Friends isn’t about creating experts, it’s about helping people understand a little bit more about what it’s like to live with the condition and then turn that understanding into action.

“This really is an initiative aimed at all ages and it is absolutely fantastic to have Poole High School showing such support.

“We hope that all the students who take part in a Dementia Friends session will be able to build on what they have learned and help play their part in making their communities more dementia friendly.”

Anyone interested in becoming a Dementia Friend can go to to find their nearest information session or to volunteer as a Dementia Friends Champion.