Age is no barrier when it comes to being creative, having a laugh or getting stuck into a puzzle. Just ask the smiling seniors who have been visiting Woden’s Lollipop Early Learning Centre over the past few weeks.
Woden Community Service (WCS) ran a 10-week intergenerational group called Senior Moments for Juniors, bringing their oldest and youngest members together for some ”free play”.
WCS senior groups activities coordinator Sandy Van Der Toorn said the expression on everyone’s faces told the story.
“Judging by the smiles on faces and great comments from our seniors, it was obvious that our little group has been a success,” she said.
The group is one of many seniors groups coordinated by WCS.
“Both groups met at the Lollipop Early Learning Centre in Corinna Street and spent time together in free play led by the children,” Sandy said.
“They had fun doing puzzles, reading stories, painting and selling ice creams from a shop.”
Sandy said many older residents may not have young relatives or see their grandchildren, especially due to COVID-19, while some youngsters could live far from their grandparents. The interaction went some way towards filling that gap.
“Bonds are forged very naturally between the two groups, and the gentle patience of older people is so encouraging for the children,” Sandy said.
“Often memories are brought back for our elderly, both as young parents and grandparents.”
One senior participant, Marie, was “absolutely thrilled” when she was invited to take part in the program.
“She said the opportunity to learn from each other was just wonderful,” Sandy explained.
“Our children also may not have older relatives in their lives who can give them that precious gift of one-to-one time, be it by simply playing and having fun together.”
It’s not only the seniors who looked forward to the play dates: the children loved the opportunity to accompany their ”nannas” around the centre and show off their artworks and play area.
“The children and seniors enjoyed the relaxed pace, so they could be themselves and have fun together,” Sandy said.
The children led the craft activities, games or singalongs and a natural bond was formed.
Sandy said the kids really looked forward to their weekly ”nanna” visits.
“They’re filling a space for each other – it’s just gorgeous,” she said.
WCS runs a variety of groups and activities for seniors, including a men’s group, discovery trips, walking and fitness groups, and is trialling a brunch group.
Woden Community Service invites seniors to join in its activities. For more information about future programs, contact Sandy on 0410 668 922.