Blog | 1st Knighton Scouts learn Makaton for A Million Hands

Dementia AMH Blog

In honour of Scout Community Month, we look at how the 1st Knighton Scouts became Dementia Friends and took on the challenge of learning Makaton which is used to help people with dementia communicate better. 

In honour of Scout Community Month we shine a light on Scout Groups across the UK who are working on A Million Hands to tackle issues affecting their communities.

With one million people predicted to have dementia in the UK by 2025, it’s important for young people to get involved in making spaces dementia friendly and learning more about the disease. This week we look at how the 1st Knighton Scouts took a Youth Shaped approach to understanding the issue for A Million Hands. We spoke to leader Stuart Turton to find out more.

In preparation for the AMH Big Moment in April 2018, the first step taken by the 1st Knighton Scouts was choosing the issue they were going to focus on.  

The Section Leaders created a presentation with the AMH resources and introduced the four issues to the young people. At the end of the evening, the young people were asked to vote on the issue they wanted to focus on and ‘across the board, dementia was the first choice,’ said Stuart. ‘It was completely Youth Shaped – our choice to focus on dementia.’

Stuart suspects that the Scouts’ choice to pick dementia as their AMH project has a lot to do with many of the young people having older family members who may be suffering from dementia. They have seen the disease at home and in their families and it’s created a lot of empathy around the subject.

Once the Group had chosen the issue, they invited a speaker from Alzheimer's Society to hold an information session on the issue. Julia was the guest speaker and ‘it was great because she adjusted her presentation depending on the section she was addressing,’ said Stuart.

At the end of the presentation, the younger people became Dementia Friends. The 1st Knighton Scouts wanted to live up to their new titles as Dementia Friends and get more involved with learning about the subject. To do so, they all started learning about Makaton which is a simplified sign language used to help dementia patients when they struggle to communicate. What started out as research and learning a few signs, quickly evolved into a whole new challenge for this Group.

‘The young people really like it and are completely committed to it,’ Stuart said. ‘I have even heard from some parents, that young people practice Makaton via YouTube when they’re on their own’.

Stuart would like Makaton training to become a regular part of the Group’s programme as a way to prepare the young people for planning a dementia-friendly event. He wants to make sure ‘the majority of the Group is confident with Makaton because the idea is to have them work with an old people’s home,’ said Stuart.

The Group is committing to making sure ‘the older people feel like they are still part of the community’ and Stuart is hopeful that the young people will be able to teach their families Makaton with the aim of making ‘our whole town not only dementia friendly but also Makaton friendly!’

Stuart is aware that a crucial step in this AMH project is making sure young people understand the issue they’re tackling. He’s already thinking about the possibility of having another Dementia Friends information session when new people join the Group. 

Don't forget your A Million Hands Big Moment (April - June 2018)

In spring 2018, young people across the UK will be taking part in the A Million Hands Big Moment to take action on their chosen issue. You'll find simple, step-by-step resource packs below to support you in planning and delivering A Million Hands in the run up to the Big Moment.

Scout Groups working on dementia as their A Million Hands issue, will be holding a dementia-friendly event for their A Million Hands Big Moment. By taking part, young people will raise awareness and make a positive difference to people with dementia in their community.  

Dementia Big Moment resource packs:

For Beavers

For Cubs

For Scouts

For Explorers/Network

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