Unlikely friendships flourish between high school students and aged care residents

Kingswood High students visit an aged care resident as part of the program.
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Unlikely friendships are set to flourish out of a new intergenerational initiative with students at Kingswood High School.

Year 11 and 12 students will be doing a series of visits in aged care facilities around Penrith over the next few months.

Kingswood High School Community and Family Studies teacher Nicole Geyer said the idea came out of an event that took place earlier in the year.

“In Term 1 hospitality students spent time cooking and preparing some morning tea for residents and workers from the Heritage Kingswood Aged Care Facility who came to the school and spent time with them,” she said.

“Lots of classes around the school were asked to contribute and some made cards, others made jewellery boxes and it was such a success, so we thought we would reach out to other places who might like our services.”

Kingswood High students visit an aged care resident.

With the lessons learnt and connections made beneficial for all participants, Geyer is excited to see what takes place over the fortnightly visits.

“We want to teach the kids the importance of giving back and building positive relationships with different types of people in the community, particularly the elderly who we need to take care of,” she said.

“Sometimes teenagers get a bad rap in the community, but the kids are really excited to make people feel good and it’s a good way for our students to have some hands-on experience and not just learn from listening or reading textbooks.”

With Year 11 taking part in the first visit last week to SummitCare Penrith and Year 12 booked in for this week, the visits for one to two hours are all about providing some company and conversation.

“We know that a lot of older people don’t have contact with family, or they have passed away, so it is beautiful for them to have someone to chat to as you never know how much it means to a person and the kids get a lot out of it as well,” she said.

“As we continue, we might get them to paint the residents’ nails if they want, play board games or just spend some more time chatting and hearing life stories.”

With 45 kids across the two grades currently involved, the program may expand to other students and centres.

“If it is successful, we would love to offer it to the younger year groups but we have just started with the older kids who have a higher level of maturity as we trial it,” she said.

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