News & Events

Young and old share ideas

June 21, 2017

The Glen Katherine Primary School website names respect and excellence as two of its values, woven into all aspects of the school’s curriculum.  It seems the students walk the talk.

In term two about 12 Year 6 students from the Eltham North school have visited Liscombe House, OCAV’s aged care facility as part of a community leadership program. But the service has been very much a cultural exchange with the students, emerging community leaders, and the residents, sharing skills, information and experiences.

The weekly Tuesday exchange means children get to spend time with older people from their community and residents get to enjoy the energy of children. For some, the company of children is a rare experience.

After some early planning around activities, the students arrive each week and set up the activities with the residents, forming friendships and comfortable groups. The activities include knitting, long-stitch, iPad demonstrations, footy talk, cardmaking and games. Parents of students also supported the visits by donating card-making material, knitting needles and wool for use.

Mandy Williamson, Lifestyle Coordinator and Diversional Therapist at Liscombe House, said she steps back and watches in ‘amazement’ as the students unpack equipment, greet the residents and settle in for an afternoon of companionship.

“They are terrific kids to have here. This week they couldn’t attend because of another school activity and the residents were really disappointed. It is a connection they value. The kids are so open and warm that I don’t need to orchestrate anything, they take the initiative, which is what we had hoped would happen,” Mandy said.

Some of the residents have taught some of the students to knit and do long stitch, while some students have shown residents how to use an iPad to pursue interests such as football and to check the weekly ladder. For others the exchange is social through playing scrabble and conquering jigsaw puzzles.

Julie Collins, the Extension Coordinator at Glen Katherine Primary School said the ‘exchange’ was important because it helped everyone involved see that “learning is an ongoing endeavour and that the process is reciprocal –  we can learn a lot from each other – regardless of age,” Julie said.

“It is critical that our students learn to respect all people, regardless of their age, and understand that the elderly have lived through incredible experiences which we too can learn from.”

The plan seems to have worked. Comments from two of the students: “We have loved playing games and learning how to knit” and

“I wish we could come here everyday!”

The relationship with Glen Katherine Primary School looks set to continue. OCAV and the school are considering the possibility of an intergeneration project next year to form part of a gallery display for OCAV’s 150th celebrations that kick off in 2019.



"There is nothing I would change that would make my life any better. I have two loving sons and family and I thank God every day that OCAV took me in when I had nothing," said Jill Dale, Braeside Park resident.

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