Building connections within the community
Building a connection between pre-school children and the elderly was the aim of Goodstart Early Learning Gawler South’s
centre director Janine Ludwig when she set up the program.
“We discovered many children in our area were not exposed to an older generation such as nans and pops and many of them didn’t get any visitors at their centre,” Ms Ludwig said.
She approached the Southern Cross Care facility and discussed opportunities to form a partnership to bridge the gap between the two generations. The visits from the elderly residents began in 2012.
“Four elderly residents would pile in to a tiny blue car, with a wheelchair and walking frame in the boot, and attend the childcare centre the first Tuesday of every month for an hour,” Ms Ludwig said.
The blue car made many trips but the organisation now has a bus and driver, and the initiative has grown to include eight to 12 residents visiting monthly.
“The outcome (of this project) was to close the gap between the elderly and the young, and through this engagement we have seen positive outcomes for the children and the elderly including respectful engagement develop.
“There is a beautiful innocence from the elderly to the young and from the young to the elderly that brings out the best in one another – lots of happiness and smiles,” she said.
Ms Ludwig said she planned to continue to program in to the foreseeable future, which is part of the centre’s aim to offer accessible and community-connected early learning and care.
“There is a lot of research around the world which shows the interaction between two generations have positive outcomes to the elderly's/young cognitive/social development, continual learning and amazing health benefits.
“We would like to broaden the program from our end and have visit them more frequently.”
Goodstart Gawler South was recently recognised through the organisation's annual awards program, where it won a major award in the community connections category.