A two-year-long project to make the Prestwick promenade more accessible for people living with dementia has unveiled three new wind vanes to coincide with World Alzheimer’s Day on Monday 21st September.
Dementia Friendly Prestwick has worked in partnership with the local community, South Ayrshire Council, Ayrshire Roads Alliance, and Paths for All to make the promenade more pleasant and engaging. Building local community links between people living with dementia, their families, carers, support charities and health professionals is a key feature of a successful Dementia Friendly project.
The charity who are helping people living with dementia remain part of their community carried out a public consultation which gathered overwhelming support for the project. Small changes can make a big difference towards a more accessible, engaging, safe and welcoming walking route along the seafront.
Changes that have been made include:
- Easy read toilet signs
- New directional signs
- New noticeboards on the promenade and civic garden (Boydfield Gardens) to share information about local events and services
- Colourful benches with arm rests
- A new road crossing island on Links Road to make walking from the promenade to the toilets and café safer
- Three poetry wind vanes depicting the islands that can be seen from the shore: Ailsa Craig, Arran, and the Holy Isle.
The group are delighted with the feedback they have received. Chair of Dementia Friendly Prestwick, Ian Welsh OBE said: “This project is one of a range of activities undertaken by Dementia Friendly Prestwick over the last four years to make positive impacts on people living with dementia and their families or support workers. The current public health challenges have only reinforced the need for friendly, welcoming, accessible, and inclusive public spaces. We’re especially pleased that partnership and consultation are at the heart of this initiative.”
Further plans for the town include creating a Dementia Friendly “Meeting Centre” and information resource. In the meantime, the group plan to restart their weekly Health Walk. Group member Julie Twaddell is looking forward to supporting more people to enjoy walking again. She said: “We have missed our regular Monday Health Walks, put on pause earlier this year. Following support and guidance from Paths for All, we are thrilled to resume our walks, every Monday at 11am – beginning Monday 21st September, on World Alzheimer’s Day. We meet at the Grangemuir Road end of the seafront, and everyone is welcome. Numbers will be limited to keep people safe, and unlike before, there will be no refreshments at the end. But that won’t dampen our enjoyment from the walk.”
Support from Ayrshire Roads Alliance has been central to helping the group progress their plans. Kevin Braidwood Interim Head of Ayrshire Roads Alliance, commented: “Ayrshire Roads Alliance were delighted to assist the group on this project to enable activity and outdoor spaces that are accessible to those living with dementia.”
There are many barriers for someone living with dementia visiting the outdoors including a lack of information about accessible outdoor spaces, the services available (for example, parking, paths, terrain, and toilets), the level of fitness required, costs (for example, parking), safety concerns and transport issues.
Kenneth Dalrymple, Service Lead Neighbourhood Services, South Ayrshire Council sent congratulations to the team. He enthused: “I think Dementia Friendly Prestwick have done a tremendous job on this and I would like to congratulate them on their achievement and acknowledge their commitment to the project. I am glad South Ayrshire Council have been able to contribute and be part of such a worthwhile project.”
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.
Pat Douglass, Network Engagement Officer at Sustrans Scotland added:
“Sustrans has been delighted to support this project along National Cycle Network Route 7 through our Transport Scotland-backed ArtRoots programme.”
“We want traffic-free National Cycle Network routes to be safe, welcoming and attractive places for everyone in the community to spend time along, and projects like this are crucial in helping to make this a reality.”
“Art can play a huge role in making journeys more enjoyable for everyone, and we hope that this project encourages more people in Prestwick to make happier and healthier trip choices.”
The wind vanes were designed by Paths for All’s artist in residence Alec Finlay. He initially worked with the Dementia Friendly Prestwick Health Walk group making poetry walking sticks. This inspired the design of three poetry wind vanes, featuring Ailsa Craig, Arran, and the Holy Isle. The wind vanes were funded by Sustrans ArtRoots programme.
Find out more about Dementia Friendly Prestwick on their website https://www.dementiaprestwick.co.uk/
Find out more about their Dementia Friendly Health Walk https://www.pathsforall.org.uk/walk-project/dementia-friendly-prestwick
Find out more about Path for All’s Dementia Friendly Walking on our website.