Age gap no bar to bonding
A COMMUNITY partnership between Seasons Waterford West, Windaroo Valley State High School and the Rotary Club of Beenleigh is making a positive difference in the lives of both its young and young-at-heart participants.
The Silver Angels program involves a group of Seasons Aged Care residents and Year 7/8/9 students getting together each week to connect over joint activities including reading, pot-planting, trivia and a talent show.
Heather Kucks, who is both a teacher aide at the school and president of the Rotary Club Beenleigh, said it was a program she'd wanted to get off the ground for some time.
"The opportunity became available and in conjunction with my supervisors and the lovely teacher we have running it - Ashley - we've put this together,'' Heather said.
"Some of these students don't have contact with grandparents on a regular basis, so that was one of the ways they could be chosen."
The program has had a range of positive impacts on both the students and the Silver Angels.
"We had a couple of students that may have been a bit challenging and it's calmed them down.
"They have become more respectful and it's changed some attitudes towards older people,'' Heather said.
Teacher Ashley Naude agreed, adding that she had seen how both the students and Silver Angels had been positively affected by the connections they'd made.
"I've seen kids who refused to talk, who refused to have a relationship with even me, who've just blossomed,'' Ashley said.
One Silver Angel who has gained a great deal from the program is James, who credits the program for helping to give him a purpose and lift his spirits.
"It's been a terrific experience for me,'' James said.
"I have had a lot of problems recently with depression and it was becoming almost impossible for me to operate.''
Student Abigail said her Silver Angel had helped her become more confident and able to talk to people - something she struggled with before the program.
"My Silver Angel has been really nice to me and has opened me up to more things. It's helped me learn I can talk a lot!" Abigail said.