Intergenerational Project brings the Young & the Elderly together this Christmas

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A festive, feel-good project for Christmas time

This November, St. Clement Parish Hall was filled with elderly parishioners and local school-children taking part in a new initiative from ArtHouse Jersey and Bedell Cristin called ‘Make a Friend, Make a Mess.’ The project brought together the young and the old to engage in a shared activity. On this occasion – making Christmas decorations.

Through research and consultation of specialists in this field, ArtHouse Jersey has been made acutely aware of the need for more engagement between the elderly and the rest of society.
This festive, feel-good event provided a much-needed social opportunity for elderly Islanders. 

The workshop was led by local artist and illustrator Lauren Radley and facilitated by volunteers from the parish and members of the Bedell Cristin team, who are sponsoring the

School-children were paired with an elderly parishioner and set the task of making Christmas decorations together to decorate a tree for the Parish Hall. The participants shared their favourite Christmas traditions and, in the case of the older participants, memories from their childhood at Christmas time.

One elderly participant said “I came to help out the children but I think this has done me the world of good.” 

The children were equally enthusiastic saying “We made loads of fun stuff. Angels, candy canes and stars” (Oli age 5) 

Daisy, age 5 said “Nina was asking me questions about my favourite dinner.  Mine is a roast and she like puddings.” 

Documentaries like Channel 4’s ‘Old People’s Home for 4 Year Olds,’ which saw one of the UK's biggest retirement villages open a nursery where the classmates' ages range from three to 102, have brought intergenerational projects to the public eye and highlighted the many benefits of bringing together the young and the old in society.

Intergenerational projects around the globe have proved highly impactful for both older
adults, children and the community as a whole. Pensioners who regularly volunteer with children “burn 20% more calories per week, experience fewer falls, are less reliant on canes, and perform better on memory tests than their peers.” Youth involved in intergenerational mentoring programs are, “46% less likely to begin using illegal drugs, 27% less likely to begin using alcohol, and 52% less likely to skip school.” The community at large benefits from these kind of initiatives too, as intergenerational projects bring together diverse groups and networks and helps dispel inaccurate and negative stereotypes.

This event will serve as a pilot for what will hopefully become an ongoing project in the
community, aiming to bring many of these benefits outlined above to the Island and fostering a greater sense of community and connection in the Island’s parishes.

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