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Benalla Ensign - - Front Page -

Be­nalla school­child­ren could re­ceive an ex­tra les­son in the wis­dom of el­ders next year cour­tesy of a ground­break­ing ini­tia­tive that urges them to ‘‘Ask Gran Not Google’’.

Hav­ing launched as a pi­lot project on a much smaller scale, aged care provider Feros Care is set to roll out the pro­gram in al­most 150 schools across sev­eral states after se­cur­ing a Strong and Re­silient Com­mu­ni­ties Grant from the Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment.

The pro­gram will re­ceive $536 250 over three years, with schools in Vic­to­ria among the first to be in­vited to ap­ply to par­tic­i­pate.

In the lead-up to Grand­par­ents Day on Oc­to­ber 28, pri­mary and sec­ondary schools are be­ing in­vited to ap­ply to par­tic­i­pate in the pro­gram where stu­dents switch off their de­vices and seek an­swers to life’s ques­tions from a more ex­pe­ri­enced, se­nior source.

As part of the pro­gram, stu­dents are asked to write or video ques­tions to se­niors in their life – from close grand­par­ents and those miles away, to neigh­bours and com­mu­nity mem­bers.

Feros Care CEO Jennene Buck­ley said the not-for-profit or­gan­i­sa­tion was thrilled to ex­pand the pro­gram fol­low­ing the suc­cess of its ini­tial pi­lot.

‘‘Ask Gran Not Google has re­ceived such amaz­ing feed­back from stu­dents and teach­ers,’’ she said.

‘‘We are de­lighted the Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment has thrown its sup­port be­hind the pro­gram to help fur­ther build and fos­ter in­ter­gen­er­a­tional con­nec­tions.

‘‘It’s in­cred­i­ble how much this pro­gram has opened up the hearts and minds of all in­volved and re­minded us of the valu­able role se­niors play, both within our fam­i­lies and our com­mu­nity.

‘‘It’s re­mark­able what can be achieved when kids put down their smart­phones, lap­tops or what­ever piece of tech­nol­ogy they have and seek wis­dom from a se­nior in­stead.’’

Ask Gran Not Google is the brain­child of Feros Care’s Shelly Fletcher, whose fam­ily banned tech­nol­ogy in favour of go­ing to grand­par­ents.

Ms Fletcher said she and her cousins did a fam­ily ex­per­i­ment where all ques­tions were di­rected at ‘Nana’ and ‘Pop’ first be­fore search­ing online.

‘‘It’s in­cred­i­ble that what started as an ex­per­i­ment among my fam­ily is now spark­ing a much big­ger conversation about the wis­dom, ex­pe­ri­ence and value our se­niors can bring to the lives of young peo­ple,’’ she said.

Ms Buck­ley said the pro­gram was also about build­ing in­ter­gen­er­a­tional re­la­tion­ships.

‘‘Se­niors can teach chil­dren pos­i­tive at­ti­tudes to­wards age­ing and help them de­velop skills to en­hance life­long learn­ing in ways the in­ter­net is un­able to,’’ she said.

‘‘And it’s just as ben­e­fi­cial for se­niors as it can pro­mote im­proved health and well­be­ing.’’

Feros Care is aim­ing for Ask Gran Not Google to reach 91 000 stu­dents across more than 950 schools dur­ing the next three years.

For more on how your lo­cal school can par­tic­i­pate, visit fer­­google, email askgran@fer­ or phone Shelly Fletcher on 0448 302 094.

Tony McIl­roy

Ask Gran: Be­nalla’s young­sters could be en­cour­aged to ‘Ask Gran Not Google’ if lo­cal schools take part in a new ini­tia­tive to re­place smart-de­vices with the knowl­edge of their el­ders.

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