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15 January 2019

Intergenerational friendships

by Monique Flavell

Connections with local Kindergartens and School provides a wonderful opportunity for intergenerational relationships to form. The Arcare Surrey Hills Community look forward to their monthly visit from the class at Florence Road Kindergarten who have fondly nicknamed them their ‘grandparents.’ Students, accompanied by their teacher, sing songs to the ‘grandparents’ and sometimes the ‘grandparents’ sing songs back to them.

The children come armed with story books and clients love it when the children come to them personally to read a story. Lisla particularly enjoys their visits. She recalls the level of involvement and interaction from the children and explains how it gave her a sense of purpose. ‘In a way, over the year, we can sense the growing maturity and school readiness as their independence and confidence increases.’ Another client appreciates the socialisation, ‘it is giving them a chance to grow socially and to mix with the elderly apart from their grandparents.’

The art of playing is something that one should retain as they age. The ability to play and to have fun is scientifically proven to improve relationships and stimulate the release of positive endorphins in the brain. Thus the Surrey Hills Community and children alike enjoy playing games together such as balloon volleyball.

It was a much-welcomed phone call that we received from the year 8 coordinator at Kingswood College in Box Hill, early in December. The students were studying food and culture and had in mind to bake and share Christmas gifts for our residents.

A week or two later they came, true to their word, gifts in hand. Beautifully crafted Christmas cakes and gingerbreads, individually packaged for everyone in the community. As clients arrived to the ruby lounge they were greeted by a student and handed their gift. The students went on to share about their studies and what they had learned.

A number of clients volunteered impromptu to share about their cultures and how food brought them together. The community’s backgrounds included Egyptian, French, German, and English, among others. One of the highlights for two people with French heritage was that the student’s French teacher also accompanied them. Not missing an opportunity to practice his French, clients loved being able to converse in their native tongue.

They now hope that in coming days a connection between the French Class at Kingswood College and Arcare will be established. ‘Their complete relaxation among us as older adults’ gave Lisla a sense of involvement. She commented, ‘It was lovely to chat with these young people.’

Marie reflects on their visit and the source of her enjoyment .’To see students interest in food and culture studying and seeing how they could share it with us.’

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