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Elke links with students to reflect on life during lockdown 6

September 10, 2021

When Elke Efkemann was offered the opportunity to be part of an intergenerational project with Fitzroy High School, she jumped.

The Rushall Park resident does not have family in Australia and, for her, it was a great way to be in touch with young people.

The Intergenerational Project, now in its fourth year, connects residents with students who are enrolled in a VCAL program. Initially focused on learning more about the older person’s life, the project has switched to the relationships between residents and students and how both are living through the pandemic.

Through the two lenses the students can compare and share strategies and activities that help people to stay healthy and connected.”

“The questions from the students are making me reflect about my own experiences and attitudes, and I am curious to find out what young people think,” she said.

She has teamed up with Lucy and Peru. All three are enjoying the online meetings because it allows them to talk more spontaneously.

“In these times of Covid it’s very important to be in touch with people, to connect and communicate. That’s an achievement. Everything else needs to evolve.”

Elke moved into one of the three new apartment buildings at Rushall Park in February 2020, just before the first lockdown. She has been living in Melbourne for 38 years but didn’t own her own place.

“Having secure affordable housing is a great relief to me. I love my spacious, light -filled apartment and the beautiful gardens. The location is great and so is living in a community. I greatly appreciate the little chats and incidental contacts during the day, the possibility of connections,” she said.

Elke worked with adults teaching English as a second language for 25 years. After retiring five years ago, she tutored a couple of children in German. The sessions were informal with a focus on casual conversation.

In her past life, she was a member of the Women’s Circus for about eight years. It was a great way to learn new skills and to challenge herself while having fun.

“I don’t practise circus skills any more. Safety issues and a focus on balance were very important in the circus, and that awareness has stayed with me. I still incorporate some of the physical and relaxation exercises from the circus in my daily routines,” Elke said.

Life has certainly changed for Elke and the two students since the arrival of COVID.

“It is interesting to see how Covid is teaching us all to stay present in the moment, to enjoy the little things in life, to appreciate nature,contact with people and to try to stay positive,” said Elke.

Seven residents, including Elke, are involved in the project which will result in a book highlighting the perspectives of lockdown through older and younger eyes.



Volunteering is important to Deb, enabling her to contribute in the aged care sector. “I love it when the residents get downright cheeky. I love it when we get a bit too loud with laughing."

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