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Schools start intergenerational projects

10th May 2017

This news article is from Handicare UK. Articles that appear on this website are for information purposes only.

A number of schools are using intergenerational projects to help build better relationships between young and old people as well as tackle issues such as bullying and bereavement.

The project also creates learning opportunities for the pupils and the elderly, with pupils around the ages of 12 working one-on-one with seniors and asking questions about their childhood, work, hobbies and life in general.

The scheme, which has actually been running for around 15 years in some parts of the UK, helps students learn more about elderly people and challenges stereotypes that all elderly people live in a care home and need walk in showers and baths or can’t hear.

Speaking in an article on The Guardian website, Deborah Mason, a special educational needs teacher at the Radclyffe School, who have implemented an intergenerational project, agrees that it helps students learn more about elderly people.

She says, “It helps pupils develop their social skills. They learn about life and older people, and widen their horizons. It’s about getting them to realise that older people still have a lot to offer.”

At the Radclyffe School in Oldham the student and their elderly partner work on creating a book together and at the end of the project a party is organised to encourage parents to meet the older people that have been paired with their children as well as copies of the pairs’ finished book being given out.

Scheme tackles bullying and bereavement

The BBC2 series Old School with the Hairy Bikers, which aired in 2015, featured a similar project at Oxford Academy where teenagers were paired with pensioners to deal with bereavement and bullying.

The project at the Oxford Academy uses different activities to make sessions more engaging, such as playing a variety of traditional games or asking the teenagers to paint a picture of what life was like for their older partner when they were their age.

Research from Dr Greg Mannion, a senior lecturer at the faculty of social sciences at the University of Stirling, has found that there are a wealth of benefits as a result of intergenerational projects.

He adds, “Whether it be a recycling project, a biking or hiking group, or computer learning, all of these intergenerational school-linked projects show improved outcomes for the development of pupils, adults and the community at large.”

Following the success of these intergenerational projects, similar schemes are being discussed at a range of other schools around the UK.

The topic of bridging the generation gap has been in the news a lot recently with the programme Mind the Age Gap currently airing on Channel 5. This show sees twelve volunteers from two different generations attempt to understand each other better.