Three generations of the Whittlesea community made meaningful connections over mini-Olympics at the last session of an intergenerational program on Thursday.
Over four weeks, Whittlesea Secondary College students, Sparkways Whittlesea and Early Learning Centre and TLC Aged Care Sunlight residents came together at the aged care in Whittlesea, bonding through activities including music, arts and craft and banner making for the mini-Olympics.
A few residents at the aged care were cheering on the students with their kindergarten buddies during the mini-Olympics, while some participants stepped up and bowled in the ten-pin bowling and participated in the egg and spoon race for their team.
The project was initiated through Whittlesea Secondary College’s community engagement and partnerships project, where students from years seven to 11 work on several projects throughout the year that support the wider community.
Whittlesea Secondary College had already formed relationships with Sparkways Early Learning Whittlesea integrated kindergarten in a six-week program prior to the intergenerational program, and then included the aged care to enhance connections.
The college’s leading teacher community engagement and partnerships Kristen Jean said the intergenerational program was an amazing initiative that they had not experienced before.
“I think genuine friendships have been formed, kinder kids, the relationships that the older teenagers have developed with residents – being the glue between the two generations has been amazing,” she said.
“It’s building genuine connections and bridging that gap. It has proven benefits – we noticed that the residents were really excited and started to be really uplifted, they felt like there was a real energy.”
TLC Aged Care Sunlight wellbeing coordinator Angela Kleehammer said residents had thoroughly engaged with the younger generations.
“They love having that connection with the younger generation and socialisation and just a community connection for them is really important,” she said.
“It is important because not everyone has that opportunity to connect with a younger generation, maybe their families live away, so this gives them that opportunity within the home to have that time with them and engage.”
Kindergarten teacher Lauren Haynes said the three to five-year-olds were excited to get out and about with older people.
“It’s been amazing, our kids talk about it, all the parents comment and they’re like ‘all they do is talk about it the rest of the night and can’t wait until next week’,” she said.
“It’s just learning to be around different aged people. You get stuck in your own little friendship groups, so just getting used to the older kids.”