CHLOE’S uncle died after a long battle with it.

Nicole’s grandpa has just been diagnosed with it and Aili’s mum helps to care for people affected by it.

Dementia touches many young people’s lives but it can be hard to understand.

A ground-breaking project by students at Lochend Community High in Easterhouse aims to change that.

The Brave Bairns, a group of 12 fifth year pupils, have published a picture book for young children called Papa Loves You.

Heather Kerr, one of Lochend’s principal teachers, explains: “The project started as part of the Young Enterprise Company Programme Competition, in which pupils have to set up and run their own business, competing against teams from across Scotland.

“The Brave Bairns decided to write a book after they discovered so many of them knew someone who was suffering from dementia.”

Heather adds: “What they all agreed was that it was really difficult to understand what was happening to a gran or grandpa when they were going through dementia, and that there was really nothing out there that helped explain it to younger children.”

Alzheimer Scotland visited the school to deliver a workshop on dementia to help the young people understand a bit more about the disease.

“What the pupils felt most strongly about was delivering the message to children that whatever is going on, it’s not their fault, that their uncle or auntie or grandparent still loves them and is still the same person underneath, and that’s what they decided to focus on in the book,” says Heather.

“It’s really very moving- the pupils came up with all the ideas and the design, hand-drawing the pictures and writing the words. I think we all felt very emotional when we saw the finished book, it’s really amazing.”

The book has already had a fantastic response, with the majority of the first 100 copies selling out in four days. A second print run has been ordered and the Brave Bairns now have plans to approach local bookshops to see if they will stock the title.

“We believe it to be the first book in Scotland to focus on a young person’s perspective of dementia,” says Heather, who worked with the pupils alongside fellow principal teacher Allison Burnett. “The book is brilliant – we are so proud of them for doing it, it’s been a real team effort.”

Allison agreed: “I am extremely proud of the Brave Bairns. They have chosen to tackle an issue which is really close to my heart. My gran has dementia and the book has been very useful in helping my family explain dementia to my nephews.”

Fifth year pupils Aili Whiteford, Nicola Currie and Chloe Burnett, who are all 16, are all part of the pioneering team.

Nicole explains: “My granda has been diagnosed with dementia. Writing this book, speaking with Alzheimer Scotland and carrying out our own research has helped me understand the illness much more. It has provided great comfort to me and my family. I am extremely proud of what we have achieved and hope our book can help others.”

Chloe says: “My uncle recently died from dementia and writing this means so much to me and my family. This is a subject that affects so many people and there is nothing on the market to help support young people dealing with it. We hope our book can help.”

Aili says: “My mum works in a centre for people who have been diagnosed with dementia. For my work experience I spent a week on frontline reception meeting people with dementia and their families. Being involved in their lives really touched me .I hope the book will bring some comfort to those families who are affected by the illness.”

Former Evening Times Scotswoman of the Year finalist Professor Debbie Tolson, who is Director of the Alzheimer Scotland Centre for Policy and Practice at the University of the West of Scotland, paid tribute to the pupils.

She said: “Young people notice when there is something wrong with a family member and it can be difficult to talk openly about dementia. This can be an anxious time for everyone. The book is a wonderful resource, and a small step towards understanding what is happening.

“The Lochend Community High pupils have done what we all need to do, and that is to talk openly about dementia in a way that shows genuine concern and a commitment to reaching out across the generations to help each other.

“It’s a lovely achievement and we hope the authors will come to see us to discuss how we might evaluate its impact.”