Walking for Health project, Walk Aberdeen, run by Sport Aberdeen, has been awarded Dementia Friendly Walking status after making their weekly Health Walk programme inclusive and accessible to people living with dementia.

Minister for Mental Health, Maureen Watt presented Walk Aberdeen’s coordinator, Brian Harrison, and his team of caring Volunteer Walk Leaders with their Dementia Friendly Accreditation on behalf of national walking charity Paths for All. Brian and his team have worked together with other dementia service organisations in Aberdeen to develop their fun and friendly walking programme across the city.

This accreditation standard from Paths for All means anyone living with dementia can be assured that Sport Aberdeen’s Health Walks are safe, inclusive and friendly. Trained Volunteer Walk Leaders welcome all walkers to help them feel more confident being outdoors. The walking routes have been risk assessed to consider traffic, noise levels and lighting throughout the day. Refreshments after the walk offer opportunities to socialise and reminisce.

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.

Maureen Watt, Minister for Mental Health said:

“I am very impressed with Sport Aberdeen and Paths for All’s work supporting people living with dementia to get active. It is so important to have safe, welcoming and worthwhile activities for people with dementia to enjoy and benefit from. I’m thrilled to be able to present this accreditation to Sport Aberdeen for their thoughtful and innovative approach to making their current walking network in Aberdeen dementia-friendly.”

Brian Harrison, Walk Aberdeen’s Co-ordinator said:

“We understand the positive impact physical activity can have on people’s lives and as such we are delighted to have been able to work with Paths for All to enable people living with dementia, and their carers, to live more active lives to help manage their health and well-being.

"I am thrilled that through this project we have been able to develop and deliver a series of regular walks across Aberdeen City that are accessible to people living with dementia.”

Ian Findlay, Chief Officer with Paths for All said:

Sport Aberdeen’s staff and volunteers have enthusiastically developed 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 Brian and his team of fantastic volunteers for making small changes to their activity programme which make a huge difference to the lives of people living with dementia in Scotland.”