Poppa Jim top of the pops

Central Leader - - NEWS -

AN oc­to­ge­nar­ian’s de­sire to go back to preschool has in­spired a wealth of in­ter­gen­er­a­tional re­la­tion­ships.

‘‘Poppa’’ Jim Bat­tersby, who lives at the Hills­bor­ough Heights Re­tire­ment Vil­lage, has walked past Roskill South Kinder­garten many times over the years.

He couldn’t see over the fence, but he could tell by the sounds of chil­dren at play that it was the place to be.

‘‘I de­cided I’d like to go to kinder­garten,’’ he says.

Through an in­ter­me­di­ary he ap­proached the kinder­garten and was duly in­vited to visit. He’s been go­ing there ev­ery week since.

‘‘We thought it would be great for our chil­dren to in­ter­act with an older per­son,’’ teacher Nadine Priebs says.

‘‘So many of them don’t have grand­par­ents liv­ing lo­cally and we fig­ured that they would learn a lot from ‘Poppa Jim’ as the chil­dren now call him. His pres­ence in the kinder­garten has been won­der­ful.’’

Ev­ery Tues­day, Poppa Jim wan­ders around the play- ground and in­ter­acts with the chil­dren at the wa­ter­play area and sand­pit.

He has joined the chil­dren on trips to Am­bury Farm and in­spired them to take an in­ter­est in rock ‘ n roll when he came to the disco dressed as Elvis Presley.

While at the kinder­garten Mr Bat­tersby cel­e­brated his 88th birth­day.

‘‘Yes, there were 88 can­dles,’’ he says. ‘‘But by the time the last few were alight, some of the first-lit can­dles had burned out, so thank­fully I didn’t have to do a lot of blow­ing.’’

The chil­dren’s birth­day present to Mr Bat­tersby was a mo­saic paver they made of him with his walk­ing stick.

More of Mr Bat­tersby’s friends from the re­tire­ment vil­lage now go to the kinder­garten to share their skills, pa­tience and time.

‘‘It’s a great ex­pe­ri­ence for ev­ery­one,’’ Ms Priebs says.

‘‘Chil­dren and older peo­ple are em­pow­ered by what is hap­pen­ing here. The re­la­tion­ships are spe­cial and they are learn­ing so much from each other.’’

Good pals: Poppa Jim Bat­tersby with his small friends from Roskill South Kinder­garten. Inset: The chil­dren cre­ated this mo­saic for ‘‘Poppa Jim’’ for his 88th birth­day.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from New Zealand

© PressReader. All rights reserved.