A lot has been said about the intergenerational age gap. It can cause division, misunderstanding and importantly, a lack of respect. Many young people do not have close or regular contact with older family members, particularly due to us living in different cities to our extended families. Ending age segregation would remind us how much we have in common.
Residents from Bundaleer Lodge Nursing Home, Algester Lodge and Pre-Prep students from Ipswich Junior Grammar School have been participating in an intergenerational learning program—bridging the age gap and infusing a new richness into people’s lives.
The Sharing Spaces partnership program between the school’s Early Education Centre (EEC), Algester and Bundaleer involves five to eight residents and two carers travelling to the EEC once a week to enjoy a morning of activities and fun with the children. There are many opportunities for fun, including story time, craft activities, and cooking experiences.
The residents from Algester and Bundaleer eagerly look forward to these visits. Maureen from the dementia unit is waiting to visit hours before the bus departs and is always very happy afterwards. Maureen worked in childcare when she was younger and this experience brings back happy memories.
Some of the residents’ families live far away and they do not see their grandchildren as often as they would like, while some of the children have grandparents who live far away or are no longer with them. This program allows the residents and children to experience happy interactions with those from a different generation.
The school visits make for an exciting outing for the residents, which gives them interesting stories to relay on their return. The time spent with the younger generations allows them to get in touch with their youthful side, stirring fond memories of children and grandchildren. They feel validated when they share the knowledge, experience and skills.
The children get to make new friends, increase their awareness of the elderly, develop empathy and have fun enjoying meaningful activities. They also get to develop their social skills through the program while having fun.
The children eagerly await stories from the residents, who gladly share recounts of what the children call ‘the olden days’. The opportunity for children to hear about the experiences of the residents who have grown up in a drastically different time is incredibly important, allowing for an enhanced sense of gratitude for traditions and cultures that often go underappreciated in an increasingly technology-dependent world.
Intergenerational programs can benefit physical, emotional, social, cognitive and sensory aspects of the children and residents. This immensely positive experience would not be possible without the dedication and enthusiasm of both carers of Algester, Bundaleer and the teachers of the EEC, who coordinate the program and make the activities possible.
For more information visit www.bundaleerlodge.com