Seniors and juniors get to compare notes

NATASHA THYNE
Last updated 05:00 21/06/2014
Temuka Primary School pupils
MYTCHALL BRANSGROVE/Fairfax NZ

AWARE: Temuka Primary School’s year 5 and 6 pupils have been taking part in the Elder Abuse Awareness project, helping them learn to treasure and respect their elders.

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Rest homes and primary schools are breaking the age divide with regular visits by pupils.

Temuka Primary School has been visiting residents at Wallingford Rest Home, while Waimate Centennial School has been visiting Lister Home.

The visits are part of the "It's All About Respect" project initiated by the Elder Protection Service at Family Works South Canterbury.

Wallingford nurse manager Raewyn Mehrtens says that, when the children arrive, there is a "real hum" in the rest home among the residents.

"There is a lot of chatting and talking, the residents are absorbed in what the children are showing them."

She said there were discussions between the residents and the pupils, comparing what life was like when the residents were themselves children.

The programme, in which Wallingford and Temuka Primary School have been involved for two years, was excellent for breaking down barriers between the ages and between the rest home and the community, Mehrtens said.

Each pupil fills out a work book with exercises, pictures and photographs that they share with the residents. The residents also teach the pupils activities, including bowls and pool.

Temuka pupil Olivia Andreassend, 11, said the visits were fun as as the residents gave them nice comments about their work.

Natasha Pannett, 11, said she learned of the need to treat older people with respect and treasure them.

"One woman liked my maths page but doesn't like maths and said I am neat in all my work."

Waimate Centennial School has been involved in the project for four years and has 12 pupils who visit Lister Home fortnightly during terms 2 and 3.

Teacher Mary Jury said it was a good community project, especially as some pupils not have grandparents.

"They enjoy playing games and craft . . . Last year one of the students said ‘we can be friends with the elderly'. They didn't think about it like that," Jury said.

Geeta Muralidharan, from Family Works Elder Protection Service, said the aim was to balance fun and entertainment with insightful interactions, and to provide opportunities for young children to value, respect and gain a better understanding of the life skills and experiences of older people.

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- The Timaru Herald

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