Who would have thought a pen pal program could bring two opposite generations together, with heart felt and thought-out stories? What a way for school students to take a history lesson and for our aged care residents to get hip with today’s generation.
Year 9 students from Somerset College and eight of our residents from Burleigh Heads Aged Care Facility on the Gold Coast spent 6 weeks communicating the old fashion way; putting pen to paper. Challenging for students, not so much for aged care residents.
Posting mail in a red tin letter box was a novelty for students, for residents it was a trip down memory lane. The excitement for the students and residents running/ walking in anticipation each Monday to post or receive their letters was delayed gratification.
It was motivating for the students to receive mail in person, touching and opening an envelope and reading a handwritten letter as oppose to receiving an email or a text message, typed in shorthand, where there is barely any wait for a response. Academically the students were able to practice their writing skills, grammar and write their thoughts onto paper. Residents enjoyed the experiences of today’s generation.
The pen pals discussed life's journeys from sailing around the world in the merchant navy (old Jack) to winning second place in the recent eisteddfods on his trumpet (young Jack).
Old Jack said: "it was a pleasure to be involved in this program, to meet such a clever young man reminded me of being young."
Young Jack was equally taken with his pen pal: "to meet someone who has travelled the world and had such life experience was very interesting."
After six weeks the two generations met face-to face for the first time at Burleigh Heads Aged Care Facility. It was a day filled with joy and inspiration, competing in trivia, charades, piano recital, and getting into the groove of chair Zumba.
Diversional Therapist Michele Roche said: “watching as a bystander it was truly inspiring to see the connection between the younger and older generations; the respect, mutual interest and the laughter from both parties was infectious.”
We all can learn and inspire each other. We just have to stop every once and a while and appreciate each generation.