Home closes generation gap
For the past six years, residents at Longview Rest Home in Tawa have been looking forward to the visits from children at St Francis Xavier School.
The year 6 pupils from the Tawa school are part of the Young Vinnies initiative for the St Vincent de Paul Society, and visit the retirement home every second week.
Marlene Bowles, recreation officer at Longview, said there was only one group of pupils when the programme started, but popularity quickly grew, and there were now two groups.
‘‘The children hear about it and are keen to put their hands up when they have the chance to take part,’’ she said.
Bowles said the visits brought fulfillment to the pupils and the residents, and she was particularly pleased the residents were able to continue to pass on their wisdom.
Longview recognises the Eden philosophy, which aims to lessen boredom and loneliness by creating a vibrant environment.
Bowles said the children’s visits certainly contributed to that, because they renewed the spirits of the residents.
‘‘Sometimes the children might have difficulties talking to residents at first, but [ the residents] help them with confidence and learning,’’ she said.
Bowles said the visits involved activities like arts and crafts, gardening, and often just good conversations.
She remembered a particularly special visit last Christmas.
‘‘We got the children all geared up singing Christmas carols, and they went around all the corridors and sang for residents who might not have been able to easily get out of bed.’’
Last year the group compiled an oral history book, after several months of interviewing the residents about their lives, and each resident and child received a copy.
Longview resident and former teacher Joan Sutherland said she felt as if she was teaching again.
‘‘The children’s visits keep me connected to the world,’’ she said.
Ayse Kekec, 10, said the main reason she likes visiting the home was because her grandparents didn’t live in New Zealand, so talking to the residents made her feel happy.
Ayse’s resident buddy, Eileen Taylor, said she thought the children were lovely and very well behaved, and enjoyed their discussions.
‘‘We talk about jewellery, things we did at school . . . you name it, they’ve asked us,’’ she said.
Dorothy Jansen, youth coordinator for the St Vincent de Paul Society, said the initiative had been a great success.
She said the pupils also helped in other areas of the community by making gifts for Refugee Services to pass on to new families and assisting at Riding for the Disabled.
The pupils’ work was recognised by Presbyterian Support Central, when they won a prize in the best volunteer initiative section of the Quality and Innovation Awards.
They received a digital camera, vouchers and a gift basket.
‘‘About a month ago Dorothy and I went to the school to present the award,’’ Bowles said.
‘‘ It was the most inspiring assembly I’ve been to . . . the whole school is very supportive.’’
Welcome visitors: Top, from left, Marlene Bowles, Dorothy Jansen. Middle, from left, Ruth Adams, Eileen Taylor, Joan Sutherland, and Eileen Herriot. Bottom, from left, Jeshel Nepomuceno, Ayse Kekec, Isabelle Southon, and Troy Houston.