The aim is to foster connections and respectful relationships between different generations, to help to develop acceptance of diversity within our society; to develop positive learning experiences for the children and to create an inclusive community for older local residents in our neighbourhood. Research shows that strong support networks, connections to community and trusting relationships with neighbours is both beneficial to the positive health and wellbeing of older adults and families and young children. This is one of 8 volunteers who give their time to come in and share their experience, their time, and their knowledge with the children. He says “I love it – it sets me up for the weekend! I would recommend it to anyone”.
What we did
- We created a new partnership between Star Health and Bubup Womindjeka Family and Children's Centre. The volunteers were recruited through the Star Health Volunteer program
- Developed and piloted a 10-week InterG program weekly 1 hour sessions with active-retirees as volunteers visiting 4 year old kindergarten children in a supervised environment
- Engaged 24 children, 4 volunteers and 4 staff in the pilot
- 6 children participated in pre and post discussions with an educator; 4 BWFCC staff and 4 volunteers participated in pre and post surveys and the volunteers also documented weekly reflections
- Over the 10 week pilot program four volunteers psent 30 hours at the centre to connect, communicate and share skills with 4 year old children. 3 out of 4 volunteers continued the weekly visits.
- The children, volunteers and educators reported positive engagement and connection between the children and volunteers
- Educators were more confident working with older community members to support children's learning. Initially some of the educators perceived that the volunteers would need support and they may need to assist them with mobility. Some of the educators were unsure if the InterG program would support children to develop trustin relationships with older adults outside the family network. At the end of the 10 weeks all the educators agreed that the InterG program had achieved this.
- The children enjoyed meeting new people and playing together. Comments included:
- The interG's became more confident in their interactions with the children over the 10 weeks and engaged the children in a range of play based activities.
- The volunteers reported feeling more valued by the community over the 10 week program and that the program had contributed to their overall life satisfaction The volunteers wrote:
“I was pleased when told (by an educator) that one of the more withdrawn children had opened up to me.”
If you would like to volunteer or get in touch with ideas please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 9525 1300