School program fosters intergenerational connections - Education Matters Magazine
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School program fosters intergenerational connections

Two NSW schools have taken a new approach to student learning and engagement after partnering with Arcare Aged Care in a unique program that paired students with aged care residents to teach them about a lifetime so different to their own.

A group of students from The King’s School and Tangara School for Girls were paired with residents from Arcare Oatlands and Arcare Glenhaven. Over an eight-week period, the students visited the Arcare residents to ask them questions about their lives.

As part of the program, students were required to record their responses, and turn them into books, which were presented to the residents at a special ceremony event in late 2018. Following the success of the project, Arcare is exploring the possibility of rolling it out across other residencies around the country.

NSW Community Marketing Officer, Rachel Aquilina said the program enabled students to gain an understanding and appreciation for the elderly community, and create long-term friendships with the residents.

“When we developed the program, we had no idea how successful it would be. Not just for the students, but for the residents also,” said Ms Aquilina.

Tangara School for Girl’s teacher Rita Sakr, who oversaw the program, said the ‘Write of Passage’ project challenged students in a way that could not have been replicated in the classroom.

“Students were tasked with developing engaging questions for the residents, conducting interviews as well as undertaking the role of publisher for the books,” Ms Sakr added.

“Although challenging, the students were excited to take on this opportunity. They were amazed at some of the tales the residents shared. There were stories of war, love and adventure.”

Cyrus Anderson, a participant from The King’s School, volunteered to partner with Mary Livissianos, an Arcare Oatlands resident (both pictured).

“Mrs Fraser [Teacher] told me about Mary. She was a nun for 40 years, which I thought was amazing as I am a Christian myself,” Cyrus said.

“I’ve learnt so many valuable life lessons. From Mary, personally, she taught me to be courageous and to always follow my heart as she did when she left her convent. And that’s something you can’t learn unless you try this project.”

“It was incredible to see how trusting and open the residents were with the students,” said Ms Aquilina. “They were able to share with them things they hadn’t spoken of, or even thought about in years. It really was a wonderful trip down memory lane for them – and for the students to be able to share in that joy was heart-warming and truly special.”

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