The Benevolent Society’s intergenerational playgroups are bringing Queensland children and their families together with older people from the community.
The aim is to encourage friendship, help prevent feelings of isolation, build active communities – and simply bring joy to everyone’s day.
An opportunity for social interaction
Taking place in residential aged care facilities in the Brisbane South West region each weekday, the playgroups give parents the opportunity to make friends and create networks, as well as learn about the life stories of the residents. For the children who take part, it can be of great benefit to their social, emotional, physical, cognitive and language development.
Kylie and her 10-month-old daughter Olivia attend our Wednesday playgroup at Churches of Christ Care Beaudesert Aged Care Service.
“I have attended the Intergenerational Playgroup for three weeks and already in that short time I have built some great friendships with some of the residents, in particular one lovely lady named Val,” Kylie told us. “On the first day I gave my daughter Olivia to Val for a cuddle and Val was smitten with her. She asked me why I picked her and I told her that I could tell she was drawn to Olivia. Since then every week she looks for Olivia and loves giving her cuddles and playing with her."
"Val and I also talk about her week, her family and about her life before she went into the home."
"Val has told me she doesn’t have very good short term memory but thinks about Olivia during the week and looks forward to seeing her.”
To help Val with her memory, Kylie has printed a photo of her cuddling Olivia which she has put up in her room.
“I know that for the few hours we are there we are bringing joy to Val and the other residents. It makes me feel like I am making a difference in someone’s life, which is wonderful. There is nothing better than seeing them light up when they talk and play with the babies. This playgroup provides benefits to the residents, the babies and the parents.”
Supporting our older generation
Our intergenerational playgroups also provide many opportunities to enhance the wellbeing of elderly residents, providing them with much-needed social interaction and supporting their emotional needs.
“I really enjoy talking with the mums and singing along with the group,” says Flo, a resident at Churches of Christ Care Brig-O-Doon. “It evokes happy thoughts of my own childhood. I also enjoy learning to sing new songs and rhymes which are different to what I remember from the past. I look forward to spending time with young children as it makes a nice change to the day. I love the innocence and honesty of children.”
Everyone who has been going to the playgroups says that they have had an increase in feelings of dignity, higher levels of self-esteem and a sense of community participation since they began taking part.