Primary students make age-old connections

Music, dancing, letters and food form the basis of some beautiful friendships. Kristi Pritchard-Owens reports.

Image: Old friends: Principal Susan Olivieri shares a smile with one of her students and an elderly resident.

It can be hard to make new friends, even more so when there’s a sizeable age gap.

But students from Caringbah Public School on Dharawal country rose to the challenge when they met residents at Bay Breeze nursing home at Woolooware Shores, Taren Point.

The visit was the brainchild of Caringbah Public School principal Susan Oliveri.

“I already had connections with the nursing home, and I thought there was something we could do with our students to create authentic intergenerational relationships,” Mrs Oliveri said.

“We work with some of our High Potential and Gifted education students to foster their people and leadership skills and it seemed like a good opportunity to connect them with the residents.”

To prepare for the visit each student wrote a letter to an individual resident, asking them about their life, their family and their history.

The Caringbah students also baked morning tea for everyone, which broke down any final barriers between the young people and their more experienced counterparts.

“The connection that the older folk had with the students was genuine, it was so lovely to see,” Mrs Oliveri said.

“I think it’s very eye-opening for our kids to learn about how things have changed between then and now.”

The school’s Latin Dance group samba-ed also its way into the residents’ hearts, bringing plenty of the old razzle dazzle to share.

Growing from one teacher’s enthusiasm, the Latin Dance group had already become a sensation in the school community

One student in Caringbah Public’s support classes is so enthusiastic about his participation in the dance group that he practises at home every day with his mum as dance partner.

When it came to performing and making new friends at the nursing home, Mrs Olivieri said the student commented: “Today was the best day of my life.”

The school plans to increase the number of visits next year to their new friends at Bay Breeze.

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