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When young meets old

Providers continue to see positive benefits from community-based intergenerational projects.

An intergenerational mosaic program at Villa Maria in Bundoora is enabling older people and students to work together to create new skills, impressive artworks and solid friendships.

Villa Maria Bundoora has had a long-running and successful relationship with nearby Parade College for more than 10 years, with shared excursions, activities and entertainment helping to reduce social isolation and break down barriers between the community and older people.

Sankar Nadeson, Villa Maria Bundoora’s activity and lifestyle co-coordinator, established twice-weekly mosaic workshops for residents in April, with eight Year 10 Parade College students visiting on Thursdays to participate.

Nadeson said doing mosaic was a “magnificent creative outlet” which harnessed declining motor skills in older people and helped to improve and develop the same skills for young people.

“It brings about a whole nourishing, community feel,” Nadeson said of the classes.

“One resident who has had a stroke and has paralysis recently made a whole table using just one arm. He’s not verbal so being able to express himself in a very concrete way was amazing for him. He was just so happy, smiling and gleaming.”

Pots, tables, wall features and plates have been among the items created since the sessions began in April.

“The mosaic program has had a multitude of benefits,” said Darrell Cruse, Parade College community action program co-coordinator.

“The boys get to realise how hard the staff at residential facilities work and some of the confronting things they have to do. It also gives them a chance to do something different from classroom learning and they get a bit of praise for their efforts.

“Whenever they go out they’re quite nervous in the first week but by the end they have gained a lot of confidence. They become part of the adult world for a couple of months,” said Cruse.

Elsewhere, the benefits of intergenerational collaboration are also being seen at the ECH Walkerville Day Program, where a group of Year 10 students from Pembroke School assisted seniors in creating an art exhibition entitled ‘Our Garden’.

“Participants in our Dementia Day Program, who experience varying degrees of memory loss, enjoyed the opportunity for creative expression as well as the camaraderie provided by artists young and old,” said Rob Hankins, ECH CEO.

At the same time, the Year 10 students, through their community care studies, “were given a rare insight into the lives and skills of some of our valued older people”, said Michael Ferrier, director of visual arts at Pembroke.

“As providers, we should aim not only to provide care but also recognition of the wealth of experience that our residents and clients have and seek opportunities to introduce the broader community to them through collaborative projects,” said Hankins.

Artist in residence Katie Harten, assisted by the students, provided the artistic guidance for the ECH project, which successfully promoted community inclusion by developing a relationship with Pembroke School. Given the great success of this initiative for both organisations, ECH says the relationship with Pembroke will be continuing in the future.

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