The Walking for Health project Stride for Life, run by Live Active Leisure in Perth and Kinross, is the first project in Scotland to be awarded Dementia Friendly Walking status after making their weekly Health Walk programme inclusive and accessible to people living with dementia.
Walking charity Paths for All presented their accreditation certificate to Live Active Leisure Wellbeing Manager, Colin Melville, and his team of caring Volunteer Walk Leaders, for working together with other dementia service organisations in the area to develop their supportive service.
This accreditation standard from Paths for All means anyone living with dementia can be assured that Stride for Life’s Health Walks are safe and friendly. They will have trained Volunteer Walk Leaders, wearing easily identifiable red jackets, welcoming walkers to make them feel more confident being outdoors. The short walking routes have been risk assessed to consider traffic, noise levels and lighting throughout the day. Refreshments will be provided after the walk to offer opportunities to socialise and reminiscence.
People living with dementia benefit from being outdoors and in contact with nature as it can help to relieve stress, increase self-esteem, produce vitamin D, and exercises the brain, helping with memory and cognitive functioning. Even 10 to 15 minutes of daily walking outdoors can improve the overall wellbeing of people living with dementia.
Ian Findlay, Chief Officer with Paths for All who presented the certificate jointly with Chairman, Marcus Sangster said: “I am thoroughly impressed by Stride for Life’s enthusiasm in developing their programme of Health Walks to become more accessible and inclusive for people living with dementia. This is especially important when there are so many benefits to everyone becoming more active and spending time in nature. I would like to congratulate Colin and his team of fantastic volunteers for leading the way with Dementia Friendly Walking in Scotland.”
One walker who benefits from Stride for Life’s Dementia Friendly Walking programme is Ian Osbourne. Ian has vascular dementia and has been walking with the Bankfoot Health Walk group since it started in 2014. He enjoys attending every week regardless of the weather and was happy to be featured in Stride for Life’s Dementia Friendly Walk leaflet as someone living positively with dementia.
Ian was recognised as the first STAR of Dementia Friendly Walking because he promoted the benefits of walking while living with dementia. He received a Paths for All gold star pin badge from Colin.
Gill McShea, Partnership and Funding Manager for Live Active Leisure, said: “Ian is a fantastic role model for anyone living with dementia who might not be confident about being active. We hope his story will encourage others to join our dementia friendly Stride for Life walks.”