Edge Early Learning partners with Comlink Australia on intergenerational program
The Sector > Provider > General News > Edge Early Learning partners with Comlink Australia on intergenerational program

Edge Early Learning partners with Comlink Australia on intergenerational program

by Freya Lucas

May 13, 2024

Early childhood education and care (ECEC) provider Edge Early Learning has partnered with Comlink Australia to introduce a new intergenerational program Paper Planes. 


Developed by Comlink Australia, the Paper Planes program brings together distinct ends of the age spectrum in a nurturing environment to share wisdom and experiences. The program got its distinctive name from Joan and her young friend Oscar, who bonded over making paper planes together, taking turns to make them fly when they first met. 


This inspired Comlink Australia to capture the research backed benefits of intergenerational play with the new program, which aims to support the three pillars of healthy aging – maintaining physical health and wellbeing, mental functioning, and social relationships.


For seniors, participation in such programs has been associated with improvements in physical health, functional ability, and mental wellbeing. These interactions reduce depression, enhance self-worth, and provide positive mental stimulation.


Three of Edge’s Queensland services – Strathpine, Zillmere and North Harbour – play host to seniors 65 years of age and older, with a lower age threshold of 55-years plus for First Nations participants.  


As well as supporting senior citizens through meaningful interactions and connections with young children, the program helps kindergarten children to connect with their elders, build confidence, grow in their social and emotional skills, and increase their communication. 


“Through conversations with older generations, children can learn to articulate their thoughts effectively and develop a broader vocabulary, fostering a strong sense of self-worth and enhancing communication skills. Children may also benefit from the wisdom and experiences shared by the older generation,” Edge Early Learning CEO, Annie Bryce said.


The program kicked off in June 2023 and saw major success, with the North Primary Health Network providing additional funding to continue with the program in 2024.


Comlink surveyed seniors participating in the program before it began, with 60 per cent of them saying they felt that they often lacked companionship. When they surveyed participants again after six months of being involved in the Paper Planes program that number had dropped to 20 per cent. 


“When you have older people involved in an intergenerational program with young children, the wonderful thing is that it gives them a sense of purpose and belonging,” Emeritus Professor Anneke Fitzgerald from the Australian Institute for Intergenerational Practice said.


“There is nothing more motivating than thinking, my reason for getting up and going out today is because it is my turn to read to the children.”   


Ms Bryce said participating in the program has been both rewarding and heartwarming for Edge.


For Comlink Regional Manager Leah Randle, it’s been so successful that she would like to see programs such as Paper Planes become embedded practice in aged care. 


“I see Comlink Australia partnering with Edge Early Learning as a driving force in the intergenerational play space,” she added.


More information about Paper Planes is available here. Seniors interested in joining the program can register their interest by contacting Comlink Australia at (07) 3485 0900 or via email at [email protected].


To find out more about Edge Early Learning, visit their website: www.edgeearlylearning.com.au  

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