Seedlings to Seniors
This project aims to bring young children and older people together to learn from one another, to develop friendships and to have fun together. The project aims to tackle big issues such as loneliness and isolation and was created as a result of watching the television documentary Older People’s Homes for 4 Year Olds – a retirement village opens a nursery where the classmates’ ages range from three to 102.
The early years centre reached out to the community centre they were already connected to through previous Christmas shows and built an intergenerational programme around the needs of the children. It was called Seedlings to Seniors as the children can be compared to seedlings that grow and develop through careful nurturing.
Approximately 8-10 children (aged 2-5 years) from the nursery school and 10 residents) aged between 60-90 years) from the local care home. Participants were easy to connect as the school had already been visiting the care home for annual Christmas concerts.
The activities started with Halloween biscuit decorating then working with dough, playing the piano, using puppets and playing with storytelling spoons. Children and residents are asked what they would like to play with and what activities they would like to do together. The project is being adapted based on their needs. Everyone who chooses to participate can take part. Plans are in foot for more activities and walks, as well as visits from the residents to the school (obviously after the current crisis passes).
Benefits for the Community
- Building trust and respect between younger and older people
- Build a more inclusive community
- Address and challenge ageism
Parents are very involved and have opportunities to volunteer as helpers during the visits. We are planning a first intergenerational afternoon tea where parents will be encouraged to come along and find out more.
Benefits for the Children
- Improved communication skills
- Have fun and learn a lot from the older people.
- Increased confidence
- Learn more about the past and the local area.
- Stereotypes are challenged.
Benefits for the Older People
- making new friends, more conversation
- increased physical activity and fun.
- Increase self esteem by sharing skills and stories and life’s experiences.
- reduces isolation and loneliness
“The residents are often seen waiting at the door when the children arrive and are obviously excited about the visits”. (Early Years Practitioner/Teacher)
The project is funded through the early years centre and some resources such as art materials are shared with the care home. The organisation will be applying for food-based funding next year to try and develop an intergenerational growing project.
So far the early years centre has been observing and asking questions as the project develops. Organisers can see the excitement and anticipation in residents as they await the children’s arrival. Staff have reported experiencing amazing things as a result of the project such as an older person who normally stays in their room now joining in. More evaluation and planning is scheduled for 2020.
The early years centre would like to develop the project more, involving more of the community and potentially creating activities around gardening/growing.
Children’s communication skills develop, as well as their confidence. They learn new facts, stories and feel more connected to older people and the area.
Scottish Strategic Objectives
This project contributes to the Scottish Government’s Strategic Objectives a Healthier and Smarter Scotland.
Smarter – Expanding opportunities to succeed from nurture through to lifelong learning ensuring higher and more widely shared achievements.
Healthier – helping people to sustain and improve their health, especially in disadvantaged communities, ensuring better, local and faster access to health care.
Scottish NPF national outcomes
This program contributes to the following national outcomes of the Scottish Government’s National Performance Framework (NPF).
Children and young people – we grow up loved, safe and respected so that we realise our full potential
Communities – we live in communities that are inclusive, empowered, resilient and safe.
Education – we are well educated, skilled and able to contribute to society.