Playgroup partnership celebrates the value of intergenerational connection
Playgroup Australia has partnered with the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) to deliver a new series, Old People’s Homes for 4 Year Olds which is designed to showcase the benefits of intergenerational care programs and the value of play for all ages.
The series, which features interactions between older Australians and pre-school children, will also offer the perspectives and opinions of aged care and early childhood experts, and will explore the mental and physical impact of interactions for both the children and the older adults.
Speaking about the series, Professor in Geriatric Medicine Sue Kurrle said “In order to make positive change for people in aged care, we need evidence that intergenerational care can work in this country.
“We hope that our experiment will give that evidence and allow it to be adopted much more widely. Older people were young once and hopefully seeing these four-year-olds will really draw them out of themselves.
“Get them singing and laughing and dancing again as they would have when they were younger, bringing them back into life again.”
The series forms a “great foundation”, Playgroup Australia said, for raising awareness of the positive impacts of intergenerational programs and opportunities to connect communities and support wellbeing.
Through sharing the series, and through their Ageless Play campaign, Playgroup Australia hopes to “warm hearts and inspire people, and organisations, to join or start an intergenerational playgroup in their area”.
While the notion of “ageless play” is relatively new, Playgroup Australia has over 40 intergenerational playgroups registered nationally, which “have grown simply through word of mouth, and local community collaborations.”
Through the support of state and territory member organisations, Playgroup Australia are establishing playgroup programs within aged care services, retirement villages and in seniors centres.
Playgroup Australia CEO Fiona May said it was an exciting time for the organisation.
“We know how much (intergenerational playgroups) are valued by residents, providers and playgroup families themselves. Ageless Play playgroups bring together older adults – grand-friends – parents, caregivers and children through play. The beauty of intergenerational playgroups is the way that they overcome social isolation (for both residents and families) and enable connection across and between generations. There is such joy that comes from watching and joining in with young children at play,” she said.
Run in a similar way to regular community playgroups, Ageless Play sessions are “a fun, safe and educational way for children, parents, caregivers and older Australians to join together through a fun weekly activity, learning and connecting through play”.
Bringing different generations together fosters awareness, understanding and respect between generations, and breaks down social barriers and isolation commonly experienced by new parents and ageing communities, Ms May said.
An allied health professional involved in the program said the power of these groups could not be underestimated, adding “with the right tools, an intergenerational playgroup is relatively easy to establish, and yet the far-reaching, positive benefits between young and old are remarkable.”
The series “Old People’s Homes for 4 Year Olds” premiered last night on ABC, and is available to view on iView, with each of the five parts to be added over the coming weeks.