Somerset Times

Years 8 and 9 Students Lift Spirits in Local Aged Care Residences

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Somerset Times Edition

Week 9,
Term Three, 2016

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On Thursday 1 September all Years 8 and 9 students spent the morning in the following aged care facilities: Sanbrook Aged Care, Ozcare Ozanam Villa Burleigh Heads, Galleon Gardens Currumbin, RSL Care Currumbin Waters, Cypress Gardens - Clear Island Waters, BUPA Merrimac, Hillview House Merrimac, Merrimac Park and Earle Haven-Hibiscus, Nerang.

Another group also visited the Mudgeeraba Special School for a special morning of engaging with the young students.

Engaging with the elderly is certainly a ‘win-win’ situation. To the residences we know the research outlines the impact of engaging with young people and the mental health benefits, including lifting a person's mood, this brings. For our students they learn valuable lessons of compassion and empathy, respect and understanding. We have much to gain by sharing time with those who have much to share and give.

Months had gone into the planning of this morning and on arrival students were warmly welcomed and engaged in various activities, from word games, board games, charades, and even chair Zumba (a highlight!). Tim Shen and James Enright played piano and Georgina Powell and Ella Hammond also performed a song and dance, to name a few.

What made this visit even more special for eight of our students was the opportunity to meet their pen-pals. For the last month Candice Taylor, Vivi Baker, Bella Harris, Jessica Pridham, Jack Luke-Paredi, Holly Clements, Kristen Crasto and Lilly Thompson have been exchanging letters. Thursday was the opportunity to meet their new friend.

Students returned to school with a greater awareness and sense of purpose regarding the difference they were able to make to the elderly residents. To highlight the success of our visit, I share the following letter of thanks we received from Michele Roche, the Diversional Therapist at Ozcare in Burleigh Heads:

How wonderful to meet you both yesterday, I cannot express in words what a wonderful time our residents had yesterday with your students. They talked about it all afternoon, the interaction between youth and senior years is a delightful process to watch. The humour the sound of the laughter and above all the smiles, all around just warms the heart. I would like to commend your Year 9 students and young jack from year 8 for their manners, the consideration and the respect shown to their elders (especially upstairs) it was a true reflection of well-rounded individuals and without a doubt incapsulated the values and beliefs of the Somerset School. Please pass onto the Principal how these delightful young people represented their school so proudly. We would be delighted to have the Somerset Students back at any time. Regards Michele

Some of our pen-pals also wanted to share their experiences and thoughts:

Vivi Baker

After almost a month of correspondence, I was able to meet my Ozcare pen pal, Peter. He had been telling me all about his life, from working as an apprentice printer to travelling all over Australia as a swimming marshall. We had a lovely chat, and throughout the morning I was also able to meet so many of the other residents, all while doing everything from crosswords to poetry recitals to Zumba! A big thanks to Ozcare, Ms Sauer and Mrs Carroll for such a fun morning.

Jack Luke-Paredi

It was lovely to put a face to the gentleman I have been communicating with. We began the morning with some fun crossword questions. My pen pal was very knowledgeable and was able to rattle off the answers as quick as a flash. We then all joined in for a session of ‘chair Zumba’. Yes, we were blasting out the finest of dance moves in the comfort of our chair. I really enjoyed the opportunity to make contact with my pen pal.

Jess Pridham

I have finally met my pen pal; her name is Daphne. She was a character. I really enjoyed this experience hanging out and talking to the old people and seeing how their childhood life was and then comparing it to ours. I would love to do it again!

Bella Harris

Today was most definitely a memorable experience! I was enthralled when I discovered the life stories of numerous different elderly people, especially from my pen pal, Robert! It was surprising when I discovered how similar and relatable Robert was to myself, when he told me he used to be a keen tap dancer and absolutely dreaded school! How about that! It was an amazing experience, and I would most definitely come back to participate in chair Zumba, play charades and battle out in trivia once again!

Holly Clements

My Pen Pal, Vicky, was such a nice, easy-going person, who happened to have a lot in common with me. I loved writing to Vicky every week, and receiving her letters about her childhood, family and personal likes and dislikes. The Ozcare pen pal programme is a programme which I very much enjoyed, and I hope to keep in contact with my pen pal.

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