They may be generations apart, but students at Our Lady Help of Christians Primary School and residents of Lyndoch Living are embarking on an innovative joint project to increase wellness and learning outcomes that will benefit both ends of the generational spectrum.
Through the ‘Mini Vinnies’ program, pupils will be paired with residents to converse, seeking to find out the residents’ life stories and personal interests. Students will then, with the help of their teacher, select suitable reading material that aligns with the past history and interests of their resident so that they can enjoy reading together.
Cath Porter, Nurse Unit Manager at Lyndoch Living’s Audrey Prider Centre, said the program is an expansion on Lyndoch’s previous intergenerational program.
“We already had a very well established visiting program with OLHC Primary School, whereby selected pupils visited our Audrey Prider Centre every Thursday, joining the residents for a freshly prepared breakfast and interacting with conversation, just making a social connection,” Ms Porter said.
“Through discussions with the school we identified the potential to mutually improve the benefits of these visits for students and residents alike, by combining reading curriculum for students with reminiscence and wellbeing for residents.”
Ms Porter said that, through this more formalised visiting structure, the students will develop improved reading skills, gain confidence in public speaking and confidence in their ability to express themselves in conversation.
“The participating residents will gain a better sense of wellbeing through this one on one personalised engagement that will connect them in a meaningful way through a sense of purpose to supporting early childhood development, and also to their own past history and significant elements of their life,” she said.
OLHC Principal Eugene Dalton said the breakfast program had established a wonderful bond between students and residents extending well beyond the original intent.
“This new emphasis is almost a natural extension and adds greatly to the social, emotional development of all participants,” he said. Lyndoch CEO Doreen Power said the extension of the Mini Vinnies program is just one example of how Lyndoch Living is continually seeking to improve the wellness and quality of life for residents.
“The extension of this program adds so much more depth to developing and strengthening relationships between the students and residents,” she said.
“I congratulate our Audrey Prider team and the teachers at OLHC Primary for their commitment to those in their care, thinking outside of the box and for getting this mutually beneficial program off the ground,” she said.
All interactions between pupils and residents will be monitored by teachers and residential staff to assure good connections and rapport between the participants.
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