Young and old celebrate STEP

After a very successful trial in 2019, Annandale Grove Care Community and IGS participated in a unique intergenerational program in 2020, called the Seniors and Teens Empathy program (STEP).

A group of Year 10 students recently enjoyed their first Seniors and teens Empathy session with Annandale Grove residents for 2021.

Program Designer Samantha Heron said due to the programs success in 2020, the program has been extended to more opal care communities in 2021.

“I wanted to express my huge thanks to all the IGS students and staff that have been involved in the program since 2019, and in particular for embracing the move to the virtual program last year with so much going on for the school and students,” Samantha said.

The Program was recently featured in the first ever Social Impact Report for Opal Healthcare.

In 2020, six residents participated in the STEP program, and eight students from IGS participated.

The Social Impact Report for Opal Healthcare reported:

  • Residents’ mood improved and an increased willingness to be involved in other group activities was observed.
  • 75 per cent of residents surveyed felt more socially connected as a result of being part of the program.
  • 100 per cent of residents would recommend the program to other residents.
  • Students reported improved confidence and social skills in talking and connecting with adults.
  • Students gained knowledge through learning from the personal and lived experience of older Australians.

 IGS Principal Shauna Colnan commended the program for giving students the opportunity to strive and flourish through real world service learning in the local community.

“This is a program in altruism. We are proud of our students for playing their part to reduce levels of loneliness and isolation in the elderly, and respecting the experiences and learning from the wisdom of our elders.”

Annandale Grove’s Lifestyle Coordinator Justin David, said it was a joy to see the residents gleeful expressions throughout the program.

“You wholesomely incorporated the true definition of what meaningful engagement should look like. I truly hope you understand the impact you bring to our residents’ lives and I’m sure, the students as well,” Justin said.

Samantha said there were many highlights from the first session.

“Ollie and Ed enjoyed getting to know a little about Emma who was born and raised in Malta, and you could almost taste the freshness of the fruit from her childhood as she described her parents farm where she was raised as one of 17 children,” she said.

“Ed and Ollie shared their reasons for taking part in STEP, like getting to know people they wouldn’t usually get to know.”

The students are looking forward to meeting with the residents each Thursday during lunchtime throughout Term 2.