They’re creating virtual connections all year-round.
But not this Christmas.
To surprise and delight their ‘grandfriends’ at Mercy Community Aged Care, who they have been ‘visiting online’ throughout 2023, the students at St Ambrose’s Primary School Newmarket unwrapped the spirit of Christmas by transforming their digital bonds into tangible memories.
Donning Santa hats, singing Christmas carols and sharing some festive treats, the Year 1 learners have the joyous opportunity to meet with the Mercy Community Aged Care Nudgee residents in person to share in laughter, stories and the joy of Christmas.
The connections between old and young have been nurtured as part of the Intergenerational Learning program, which sees the students video call the aged care residents once a week.
The students and aged care residents took their bond to new heights with hands-on Christmas arts, crafts, and a merry chorus of Christmas carols.
St Ambrose’s Primary School Principal John Hinton says this in-person connection adds some Christmas cheer to those who need it most.
“Christmas can be challenging for the elderly,” he says.
“We endeavour to connect the lessons students learned from the Intergenerational Learning program throughout the year with the power of face-to-face interactions.”
CEO of Intergenerational Learning Australia Greg Cronan says the program is about “engaging aged care residents and students in reciprocal learning activities, based on school curriculum topics.”
“The program helps reduce stress, anxiety and social isolation for elderly people,” he says.
“Teachers have also noticed students are more attentive and engaged in learning after meeting with their ‘grand-friends’. We look forward to expanding this program into schools nationally.”
Mr Hinton adds there are many benefits of connections across different age groups.
“These interactions offer a unique exchange of experiences, where the young can learn from the insights of their elders, and the older generation can find new perspectives through the lens of youthful enthusiasm. It’s a beautiful sleigh ride that enriches the lives of everyone.”
This project is partially funded by the Australian Government through the Non-Government Reform Support Fund.