A Surrey-based care home group and a London school have announced a collaborative project that will see school children and senior residents share experiences and learn from each other.
CHD Living, which owns and operates 13 care residences throughout Surrey and South London, and School 21, a pioneering new East London school for 4-18 year olds are working together on a digital project that encourages intergenerational communication and relationship building.
The mutually beneficial project will focus on allowing pupils to develop their communication and storytelling skills, whilst also providing residents with companionship and mental stimulation.
The first session, which saw a group of Year 9 pupils connect with Audrey Roberts, a 94-year-old former art teacher and resident at CHD Living’s Surbiton care home, took place last week.
Prior to the session, which was facilitated by video call given the ongoing coronavirus lockdown, participants were asked to write a letter for Audrey introducing themselves and outlining their hobbies and interests. After the initial introductions had been made, Audrey kicked off the session by sharing with the school children some stories of her time working as a ballet teacher, before becoming an art teacher at 54 years old.
Audrey, who specialises in portraiture and continues to teach art at her local church to this day, then shared examples of her work with the children, as well as her top tips for creating beautiful art. This included advice on what colours go well together, colours that should perhaps be avoided, and how to add depth and dimension to paintings.
Afterwards, the children had the opportunity to showcase some of their own work, with one child, Ilham, delighted to share examples of her digital art.
Discussing their involvement in the session, 14-year-old pupil Ilham said “I really liked the session and found what Audrey said interesting. Speaking with her was nice and relaxing. I enjoyed it a lot, especially learning about portrait paintings.”
Randa, also 14, agreed: “I enjoyed speaking with Audrey and I was really inspired by the art she drew. It was amazing!”
A second video session has been planned for this week, which will connect pupils with a former 94-year-old music teacher, Elizabeth Swain, who now resides at CHD Living’s King’s Lodge care home.
Speaking of the collaboration with School 21, Shaleeza Hasham, Head of Hospitality and Communications at CHD Living, said: “At CHD Living, we really appreciate and understand the value that older people and children can bring to each other’s lives. It’s something we feel incredibly passionately about, so much so that we were recently inspired to develop an ‘Adopt a Grandparent’ programme, which pairs residents across our care homes with volunteers to chat with over video call.”
“When School 21 contacted us looking to collaborate on the programme, we thought how wonderful it would be to give the former professors amongst our residents the opportunity to teach once again, whilst also providing them with the chance to learn themselves from some of the extraordinary pupils at School 21. We’re delighted that the first session went so well, and we look forward to facilitating many more sessions in the future,” Shaleeza added.
Rachael Futo, Head of Secondary at School 21, agrees: ‘Our involvement with CHD living is spurred on by our school value of community and wanting to support others around us. Our students have a great deal of humanity and we wanted to give them the opportunity to learn from other generations. School 21 puts a lot of emphasis on students developing their Oracy skills and this was a really authentic way for our students to do that whilst also developing a friendship.’