By Melissa Grant
There’s a new playgroup in Noosa that’s bringing generations together.
Every Monday at Ozcare Noosa Heads, residents – many aged in their late nineties – and children as young as eight months gather to play.*
Together they sing songs, draw, read picture books and play.
The interaction across generations is beautiful to see.
“The residents – the look on their face just says it all,” organiser and Ozcare nurse Danae Long says.
“It’s an environment where the kids can be themselves and play. A lot of the oldies love to read and the music time is really special.”
The intergenerational playgroup is one of a growing number popping up all over Australia.
The benefits of these playgroups are plain to see. They encourage friendship across the generations, reduce feelings of isolation that often come with ageing, build respect between generations and allow the elderly to share their wisdom with the parents and children involved.
Danae said she wanted to start an intergenerational playgroup in Noosa after reading a news story about one.
“I thought we needed to get it happening more. It’s a beautiful, easy thing,” the mother of three said.
“I’ve thought of it for a few years now, getting it up and running on the coast.
“I figured if I don’t do it this year (three-year-old daughter) Poppy will be at school before I know it.”
The play sessions at Ozcare only started a few months ago but are already having a great impact.
Danae said the sessions had been very beneficial to residents, particularly those with dementia.
“It’s just about the interacting and the play,” she said.
“Even though they do have dementia they remember the songs, the nursery rhymes.
“Given patients or residents don’t remember what kids they have or what they did as a job, they can go back to their play like mannerisms.
“They can become quite vulnerable with the kids and it’s so beautiful to see.”
But it’s not only the residents who benefit. Children are also getting a lot out of the play sessions.
“The kids go up and create this empathy towards the older generation,” Danae said.
“It can be daunting seeing an elderly person in a wheelchair and their crooked hands, so it opens it up their world as well.”
Danae said it was fairly easy to start an intergenerational playgroup and encouraged those interested to give it a go.
“The (aged care) centres are quite positive about welcoming it,” she said.
“I just reached out (for interested families) on Facebook.
“I had an amazing response from the mums in our Noosa community and on the coast.”
If you are interested in joining the intergenerational playgroup or starting your own, email email@example.com
*The intergenerational playgroup is now taking a spell due to the coronavirus outbreak.