November 21, 2019

Sharing life experiences across generations

A unique program at Northern Health sees Parade College students regularly visit the Bundoora Centre Social Support Group.

The program exposes students to building intergenerational relationships and encourages them to interact with older people in the community.

Lisa James, Social Support Group Manager, said, “The Parade students have been coming for a number of years now. They come in during the week and spend time with the group members – they interact with them, play cards, reminisce about things, joke around!”

The Northern Health Social Support Group based at Bundoora Centre is a Commonwealth Home Support Program. Group members live within the community and may have been socially isolated, and the group gives them an opportunity to connect with people and have a fun day out.

“The group members love having the Parade students come in. They make them smile and love to have a joke with them. They always ask the students 20 questions – about who they barrack for, what they’re studying at school, what they want to be when they’re older. The students also help out in the old bloke’s shed,” Lisa said.

“It just brightens their day and it gives them the perspective of younger people. It’s all about interacting with one another and sharing their life experiences,” Lisa added.

Lisa also tells us the students have said it’s changed their lives too.

“They come in and start talking to the group members and the age gap sort of goes out the window. The stigma about older people is lifted because they can come in and converse with them about the footy or something topical in the news. Even the students talk about their own life experiences and the clients can relate as something similar may have happened to them,” Lisa said.

Parade College Community Action Convenor, Anne-Marie Morello, said, “The Year 10 Community Action Program is an important and highly valued part of the Parade College Year 10 Curriculum. Students engage in a valuable intergenerational experience with the aged care clients and form some meaningful relationships that help them to further develop tolerance and empathy.”

“The positive attitudes towards aging and the sense of purpose it gives our students is evident within weeks of them starting their placements. We value the relationship we have with agencies such as Northern Health who allow this wonderful engagement,” she added.

Previous students have said, “I learnt that giving my time is a really valuable experience and a joyful thing to do and something I will hold with me forever” and “The placement was an incredibly rewarding experience. I was surprised by the atmosphere, as it was very warm and welcoming. The whole experience has changed my view on volunteering – it felt very rewarding to be able to do something in the community.”

Parade student, Xander (pictured above), said, “being here at Bundoora has taught me that older people are just like everyone else. When I was told I would be going here, I was told it would probably be very quiet but, in reality, they are all having a very good time and they love it here. They said they were very appreciative of us being here – they always seem to really enjoy it when we’re here and they always thank us when we leave.”

The Parade students even helped to work on the Social Support Garden at Bundoora Centre.

The Garden was officially opened in July this year and the students have since helped to maintain it, and have recently helped change the winter crop to the summer crop.

Opening of the Social Support Group Garden at Bundoora Centre
Parade students helping to maintain the garden
Helping out in the Old Bloke’s Shed