Walking charity open Scotland’s first dementia friendly park in Stirling

Scotland’s first ever Dementia Friendly park is being launched today in one of Stirling’s best used recreational areas by walking charity, Paths for All.

In a bid to make Stirling’s Kings Park more accessible to everyone, the city space has been transformed to allow those living with dementia to be able to enjoy, and feel safe in, outdoor spaces.

Following the local community consultations as well as discussions with people living with dementia, their carers and the Stirling Walking Network, Paths for All identified several ways in which the park could be improved for those with dementia.

Dr Corinne Greasley Adams, Development Officer with Paths for All, who worked with local communities to implement the improvements, said: “This project was an important step for us in working towards our aim of driving improvements in the quality of life, wellbeing, empowerment and inclusion of people living with dementia in Scotland.

“We listened to the local community and were able to respond and make change happen.

“The experience for all visitors to Kings Park will be improved by the installation of a handrail on a steep section of the path, dementia friendly toilet signage and new benches which will provide rest points on long sections of the path.

“With these changes, we hope to spread the message that anybody can enjoy walking activities.”

Additionally, an information leaflet with a map has also been created to assist with wayfinding and decision making prior to visiting King’s Park.

Minister for Mental Health, Maureen Watt, who will officially open the park, said: “Making our parks and public spaces more inclusive for people living with dementia to improve their physical, social and mental health is so important.

“There has been a lot of work in recent years across Scotland to build dementia friendly and dementia enabled communities, through local partnerships and committed grass-roots work, and we want to see all communities becoming dementia friendly.

“The Kings Park project shows what can be done to help make our communities and green spaces more accessible and inclusive for people with dementia.”

Stirling Council Provost Christine Simpson said: “I am delighted to support this important initiative which will bring pleasure, relaxation and increased wellbeing to our Stirling residents. This is particularly important for people living with dementia and their carers as many of the improvements have been specially designed to enhance their access and quality of life.”

It is estimated that Scotland has around 90,000 people with a dementia diagnosis who could benefit from more everyday walking opportunities.

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 anyone living with dementia. Physical activity can bring many benefits, such as improved: sleep; physical fitness; confidence; mood; and self-esteem. Being active can help improve memory and slow down mental decline as well as reduce the risk of osteoporosis and stroke.

For further information on the Dementia Friendly King’s Park project contact Carl Greenwood on email: [email protected].

Picture (c) Paths For All.