The Safe in Tees Valley National Citizenship Service (NCS) spent time at Ingleby Care Home creating memory boards of the residents’ life stories.
The project, named Close the Generation Gap, involved 12 volunteers aged 15 to 17 creating memory boards for 15 residents.
One of those was 16-year-old Alfie Thomas, who said he wanted to take part in the project because he used to visit his step dad’s mum when she lived in a care home.
He said: “I found it fascinating to talk to her about when she was young. I also used to talk to the other residents about their lives as they seemed to have done so much.”
Abby Kennedy, team leader for the Safe in Tees Valley NCS, said: “We wanted the project to be something that would leave a lasting legacy. That was proof of the students’ presence.
“We found the residents like to reminisce about the past but we could see they were making new, happy memories of the students and the project itself.”
The group spent five days at the home in total. Various “ice-breaker” activities helped the volunteers and residents get acquainted before they began creating the memory boards.
An exhibition of the work was set up, with residents’ relatives and friends invited to the home to view the stories and talk to the volunteers about their experiences.
A day of songs and entertainment then marked the end of the project.
Abby added: “Initially, some of the students were nervous about what they would find in the care home as their only experience was what they’d seen in the media.
“Some of the residents seemed a bit nervous too when they saw a bunch of 16 year olds enter the home but they were soon getting along and making new friendships.”
Kirsty Walsh, activities coordinator for Ingleby Care Home, on Lamb Lane, Ingleby Barwick, said: “We organised some ice-breaker activities between the groups and, within a short time, the students realised the residents had lots of interesting, funny stories and experiences to share.
“We had initially identified eight residents to take part but, with the enthusiasm and charm of the youngsters, more joined in and, before long, we had 15 who had completed the memory boards.”
One of those who took part was 89-year-old Moira Elms, who said she was overcome with gratitude when she received her finished memory board.
She said: “I’ve never been given something so touching. I never thought people would think of doing something so nice.
“It makes me cry as it goes way back to when I was little.”
Kirsty added: “It was a fantastic project. It was a joy to see how the residents responded to the students and the creation of the memory boards.
“We would have them back at Ingleby Care Home anytime.”