News & Events

Gone to the dogs in Euroa

May 24, 2018

Sandy, the resident labrador at Euroa Secondary College, is helping bridge the gap and improve understanding between the town’s young and elderly community. If anything can do it, Sandy can.

Sandy, who joined the school community five years ago, will accompany Year 12 VCAL students to OCAV’s Currie Park village each week to visit the residents and help the students better understand some of the issues around ageing.  It is hoped Sandy’s visits will bring some pleasure to the residents, many of whom had pets before moving into the village.

Sandy has become a valuable ‘staff’ member since arriving at the Years 7-12 College of 370 students. One teacher has ‘custody’ of Sandy at night and on weekends, but her daytime care is shared between students and there is no shortage of volunteers who love her.

Teacher Angela Tough has developed the dog visitation program to Currie Park as part of the VCAL subject where students develop skills for the workplace, such as communication. She hopes the connections made with older residents will also broaden the students’ understanding of the issues facing older people.

“A lot of our students don’t have much to do with older people and there’s a sense that they are always being criticised. I think it works the other way too; young people criticising older people. I hope we can break down some of those barriers and build bridges of understanding and acceptance,” Angela said.

Each week two students take Sandy to Currie Park where they wander around and meet residents. They take Sandy wandering around the cottages and into the serviced apartments to visit residents in the community space or in their room if they prefer.

Apartment Supervisor Pauline Walters said the residents couldn’t help but love Sandy who wags her tail and waits for love and attention from people.

“Many of our residents have come in from farms and they were very sad to leave pets, particularly dogs, behind. They love Sandy,” Pauline said. “There is one resident who didn’t want to move in here until his own dog had died. So to have a visiting dog is wonderful and Sandy is very easy to love.”

Pauline said the students and residents hoped to be able to take Sandy out into the gardens and play ball games with her once the weather was warmer again.

As well as the visitation program between Currie Park and the College, Angela said students were also researching a lot of issues associated with ageing and the services that are available in the small Victorian town. They are also interviewing an older person to get a more personal perspective.

“There is a divide in our community between older people and young people, so this project has the potential to really break down some of those ideas. We have only been going a few weeks so we will see how it unfolds. You can’t formalise relationships or determine how they develop, you just have to let it happen. But I hope some common ground will be found,” Angela said.

Caption: Students Tom McIntosh and Josh Morrison with Sandy.

Leith Park is a wonderful place for single older women because of the community and the age-friendly accommodation. I don’t think I have ever felt as safe as I have here.

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