In May 2019, Australia’s first co-built educational and aged-care facility was opened in Morphett Vale, South Australia. The Montessori middle school has three classrooms to accommodate around 60 students on the grounds of Kalyra Woodcroft aged care facility in Adelaide.

When the school needed more space, the offer of sharing the grounds of the aged care home presented a wonderful opportunity to connect the young and old at another level. 

The experiment is a first in Australia but is already helping students and residents overcome ageism and build genuine connections. 

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The school inside an aged care home: Adelaide launches intergenerational learning program

Principal, Noel Browne explained, ‘society is facing increasing age segregation which we believe can be influenced by learning programmes and intergenerational care opportunities.

By encouraging interaction between the young and old, meaningful understanding and connection can be built between the two generations. This can only lead to a more balanced and well-functioning society’.

‘Research shows everyone benefits when the young and old generations come together. Children gain from positive role models and mentoring, develop empathy and respect for older people, plus benefit from being exposed to the wisdom and traditions of older adults’.

‘Intergenerational programs also help to dispel age related myths and stereotypes. They have been shown to improve older adults health outcomes, for example, overcoming feelings of loneliness, experiencing a greater sense of purpose, exposure to new learnings (for example, technology) and increased physical activity. They also benefit from expanded social networks,’ Terry Wilby, Director or Care at Kalyra Woodcroft explained.

‘The impact of this innovative intergenerational approach will be measured by a study to be undertaken by Flinders University.

The aim of the research will be to measure the quality of life of residents and the psychosocial and cultural outcomes of the co-location on both the residents and students. We expect both to experience benefits’.

Though this is not something that can be achieved in all schools, I hope it gives some inspiration for connecting students of any age with the elderly. There are so many benefits to be had by all! 

This is a documentary series on ABC iview if you'd like to see more.

Ripple Kindness Project school curriculum book and resources

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