Bridging the gap between young and old

An innovative project to bridge gaps between the young and old is underway in Southland and could go national.

Age Concern Southland has begun work on "Ages Unite" a project which aims to educate both young and old about respecting each other through film and song.

Age Concern community worker/educator Jan Pfeifer said filming for the $35,000 project began last week.

A three-part DVD would be made to be used as an education tool for community groups and schools.

It would include a short animated film, interviews with professionals and members of the community, and a song about ageism.

"Ageism is when older people are looked at and considered frail, past their use-by date. For example, a man goes to the doctor to complain about aches and pains, and is told he is just getting old," she said.

Age Concern Southland manager Janette Turner said Ages Unite was about respect.

"Older people can't just say 'I'm old, respect me,' it has to go both ways," she said.

With divorce or separation no longer taboo, and an increase in unmarried mothers, the family values that were staunchly adhered to by older generations were often completely different to values held by younger generations, she said.

One of the lessons she hoped younger people would take away from Ages Unite was to be aware of the environment around you, and the place that older people had in that environment.

A group of teenagers walking down the street could be very intimidating for an older person, she said. "Split up and make room for them to walk past. Some older people would rather walk out into a street or car park than have to be confronted by a group of teenagers."

During the first few days of filming, it had been amazing the stories that had come out, and how different they all were.

Age Concern hoped to launch the project during Older Persons Awareness week in October, she said.

Various community groups have supported the project, including the Southern District Health Board and Rotary.

Pfiefer said most of the funding had already been secured, with just $5000 still needed.

Age Concern approached the Invercargill City Council with a request for funding last week.

Having received support and funding from Age Concern New Zealand, it is believed the project could go nationwide.

"We are amazed how quickly people came to the party."

Inspiration for the project came from a Canadian video promoting organisation Age Strong, which championed intergenerational respect, she said.

The Southland Times