Four-year-olds bridge generation gap for care home residents

Divine Care Home residents and the children having a dance.
Divine Care Home residents and the children having a dance.

Age is no barrier to friendship and fun for these young children and elderly people.

Toddlers from Wingate Community Nursery School have been meeting up weekly with ten elderly people from Divine Care Home in nearby Station Town.

Having fun making cakes.

Having fun making cakes.

Inspired by a Channel 4 programme - Old People’s Home for 4 Year Olds - and BBC documentary, Toddlers take on Dementia, they played games, gardened, painted, danced and helped each other keep fit.

The nursery School has worked closely with the local community for many years and seized the chance to embark upon the Young at Heart project which is funded by an Awards for All Lottery grant.

The nursery said the communication, interactions and affection between the elders and the youngsters has been incredibly moving to see.

Headteacher Becky Wood said: “The concept of bringing together the young and old is something we have wanted to explore for a while, recognising the potential value for both sets of people. However, I don’t think any of us were quite prepared for how emotionally attached we would all become.

I don’t think any of us were quite prepared for how emotionally attached we would all become

Nursery headteacher Becky Wood

“This project has had significant impact on my own learning, highlighting the importance of the simplest things in life.

“Making friends and maintaining a relationship is a life skill and one of the most important things any of us will ever learn.

“My four-year-olds have done this beautifully, taking very seriously their responsibility of making friends with these lovely old people.”

Their sessions together were captured on film and analysed by a psychologist and the nursery team who noticed the relationships and bonds develop week after week.

The youngsters gave their new friends gifts at a party celebrating the success of the project.

The youngsters gave their new friends gifts at a party celebrating the success of the project.

Despite the fact that many of the old people have dementia the nursery says the weekly sessions have been full of fun, reigniting playfulness in each of the elders.

Martha, 92, said whilst playing alongside four-year-old Aaliyah: “This has been the most beautiful day of my life!”

To celebrate the success of the project, which has now come to an end, a party was held for the children, elders and their families.

There was music and dancing, balloons and bubbles, games, treats and party bags.