Building connections through fun and games

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Intergenerational playgroups bring together the young and young at heart to build connections and relationships through play to the benefit of seniors and young families.

youth and seniors build connections at a playgroup
St Andrew’s resident Ardath Ryan with Hugh Roach and other members of the intergenerational playgroup come to the end of a ‘bear hunt’ at their recent Teddy Bear’s Picnic. Photo: Kerrie Brewer.

Locally, ACT Playgroups have nine intergenerational playgroups in Canberra. Open to young families with children aged 0-5 years, the groups are free and open to the public. However, due to current health concerns, some intergenerational playgroups are unable to meet on site at residential aged care facilities. ACT Playgroups is assisting members of these playgroups to provide alternative venues.

Jesslyn Nelson and her son Hugh Roach attend St Andrew’s Intergenerational Playgroup and, for Jesslyn, it provides an opportunity to create connections with older generations.

“We are a defence family so we don’t live close to family. It’s nice to have another generation in our lives so Hugh grows up with older people to relate to.”

Jesslyn and Hugh have been attending the intergenerational playgroup at St Andrew’s since it first started and said it is “definitely my favourite morning of the week. It’s always a welcoming place to come and have some fun”.

“I really enjoy it. Not only the residents but the staff here are so welcoming and very hands-on with the children and getting the residents involved.”

Intergenerational playgroups are not a new phenomenon but hit the spotlight following the recent hit ABC TV series, Old People’s Home for 4 Year Olds.

According to ACT Playgroups, intergenerational playgroups are beneficial to all participants by encouraging friendship across generations, helping prevent feelings of isolation associated with ageing, while seniors can also share their parenting knowledge and experience.

Additionally, Jenny Mobbs, CEO of Council on the Ageing (COTA) ACT, said intergenerational playgroups also encourage seniors to get up and physical.

COTA ACT is concerned with all issues related to people who are over 50. In addition to speaking with government about issues of direct concern to seniors, they also provide information and advisory services. ACT Seniors Week events hosted by COTA ACT that were originally planned for 23-29 March have been postponed to 14-20 September; cotaact.org.au

For older Canberrans interested in intergenerational playgroups, while most are held in aged care facilities, the Harrison heritage intergenerational playgroup is the first group off site. ACT Playgroups invites seniors in the community to join the playgroup and enjoy the benefits and joy. For more information, email [email protected]

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