Intergenerational lessons in life

Ten NSW public school secondary students took part in a world-first intergenerational TV experiment now screening. Poppy Diamantis meets one of them.

Image: Student Lily, at front, in a screen grab from Old People’s Home for Teenagers. Photo supplied: ABC TV

Old People's Home for Teenagers brings together 10 older adults and 10 teenagers for a compelling ABC TV series looking at how to ease loneliness and social isolation for both the young and the elderly.

The first intergenerational program of its kind, the series shows the teenagers in Years 8 to 10 spending time with older adults, learning about resilience, confidence and the rites of passage into adulthood.  

The teenagers who participated in the series attended NSW public secondary schools in Sydney’s Northern Beaches area – Balgowlah Boys' Campus, Cromer Campus and Mackellar Girls' Campus of Northern Beaches Secondary College, and The Forest High School.

Year 10 Mackellar Girls' student, Caity, was one of four students from her school who took part in the series. She said the teenagers quickly realised they could learn a lot from the older generation.

Image: Caity, right, with new friend Lily, at Mackellar Girls'.

“At first I was nervous and excited,” Caity said. “I was meeting new people; this was a new experience; and it was being filmed for television. I thought we would be helping the older people, but quickly realised they were also going to be helping us too – not with schoolwork, but with life lessons.

“All my grandparents live in the UK, so I have not had much recent contact, and generally do not have older people around in my life.”

Caity said every episode was a challenge - “but a good challenge”. She was partnered with older adults Maggie and Bob, who provided excellent advice.

“Bob would always remind me to have fun and make the most of any situation. Maggie has taught me not to dwell on the past, to live life and make the most of each day,” she said.

“Participating in the series has been a once in a lifetime experience. I learnt so much about myself, about others and how important connection is between people of any age. I would definitely do it again.”

Old People’s Home for Teenagers screens at 8.30pm on ABC TV and ABC iview from Tuesday 30 August. It follows on from the successful series, Old People’s Home for 4 Year Olds, which first aired in 2019.

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