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Residents, school children connect via video calls

Farnorha residents, school children connect via video calls

Residents at Farnorha aged care in Cairns have been connecting with local school students through a new online intergenerational learning and wellbeing program.

Over the past four months, residents have been enjoying a weekly hour-long video call with a class of Year 5 students at St Gerard Marjella Catholic School at Woree in a program which is forging bonds between young and old in a whole new way.

Resident Osric said he was most surprised to see how well behaved the children are, and how many differences there are to the way things were when he went to school.

“What surprised me most is what they have in front of them in the classroom,” he said.

“We had old typewriters, if we were lucky, and the keys would stick. But they have all this technology and televisions, it’s all there. It’s certainly a different way of life.”

Each fortnight the residents and school children engage in a ‘show and tell’ segment. Osric says he loves how inquisitive they are about all the seniors have to teach them.

“We’re getting older and the more we keep our minds going the better,” he explained.

“The children recently went to Fitzroy Island, so they showed us photos and we got onto talking about fishing and boats. I showed them the 18ft fish that my daughter caught recently - I was onboard, but I didn’t catch it.

“I also showed them the barometer I have which was made in the 1800’s – the students were amazed at what things looked like back then!”

Activities Officer Tiffany Harms says watching the bond form between the students and residents has been very special.

“It’s always very interactive on both sides, and we are hoping that the groups can meet in person soon,” she said.

The project was born from the work of Intergenerational Learning Australia CEO Greg Cronan. Mr Cronan said that while studying, he realised there was opportunity for intergenerational learning programs using video conferencing could be an ongoing and sustainable interaction that would have mutual benefits for school students and older people in aged care homes.

“There were no intergenerational programs that intentionally integrated school curriculum topics using video conferencing on a weekly basis, with the purpose of achieving a reciprocal learning outcome for both age groups,” he said.

“Now we can see evidence for the success of virtual intergenerational practice programs to reduce social isolation and exclusion, especially when practicing social distancing.”

The residents and school children will hold their first in person meet up on Monday 27, November at 10am.

This project has been partially funded by the Australian Government through the Non-Government Reform Support Fund.

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