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Simonside Primary School embarks on mission to change older people’s worlds with Wag & Company

Pupils of Simonside Primary School are set to experience the difference volunteers make at Wag & Company North East Friendship Dogs.

Year five pupils of the school in Jarrow are embarking on a four-week project with Wag & Company, a charity working to combat loneliness of elderly dog lovers in their own homes and in care or medical establishments, with two and four-legged companionship.

The project, aiming to teach the pupils how small things can have an impact on someone else’s life, began on 22 February with a visit to school from a Wag & Company Super Ambassador, Diane Snowsill, her lurcher, Eddie and Sheila Moody, the 89-year-old they normally visit in her own home in Durham.

Sessions will continue to run for four weeks; the pupils will accompany two Wag & Company volunteers and their dogs once a week, visiting local care home, Hawthorn Court in Hebburn, to see first-hand the impact visits have on the residents’ lives.

Nikki Woodrow, year five teacher at Simonside Primary School said: “This term, the year five pupils have been focusing on how one person can change the world. After hearing about the brilliant things Wag & Company does, our children were very keen to get involved.

“The first visit to school went amazingly. The children really engaged with Sheila’s stories and listened to how she loves visits from Diane and Eddie. One pupil even gave Sheila a spontaneous hug, which was heart-warming to see.

“We’re thrilled that the children have a chance to experience the difference the volunteers are making every day and we’re looking forward to the visits to Hawthorn Court this month.”

Sheila Moody, who receives weekly visits from Diane and her lurcher, Eddie, told the children how one person and her dog really have changed her world. She also shared stories about Spitfires and living through World War II, which gained a lot of intrigue from the children.

Kaitlin, aged nine said: “I had a fantastic time with the visit. I loved hearing about Sheila and Eddie’s friendship and all the interesting World War stories. I hope we get to do it again soon.”

Wag & Company, which is run by Charity Director and Chair, Diane Morton, aims to almost quadruple its volunteer numbers over the next three years. This will enable more than 100,000 additional visits, bringing joy to around 2,000 elderly individuals.

Diane said: “We are so honoured that the children of Simonside Primary School are interested in what we do. It’s really important that we shine a light on the need to engage with older people, especially in the younger generation, so that they can see how even the smallest of actions can brighten up someone’s day.

“We were more than happy to visit the school and can’t wait to continue to partnership throughout the four-week project.”

The pupils plan to end the project with a fundraising activity, in which all proceeds will go to help support the work that Wag & Company carry out in the region.

To find out more about Wag & Company, visit wagandcompany.co.uk, and to sign up to Walk for Wag in September, visit wagandcompany.co.uk/fundraise/walk-for-wag.

To find out more about Simonside Primary School, visit http://www.simonsideprimary.org/.

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