A lovely community partnership has developed between Arden Anglican School and Estia Aged Care, with Junior School students enjoying regular visits to residents at The Poplars.
Arden’s Junior School community service program was initiated in 2016. Mrs Karen Hopkins, Community Service Coordinator, explained: “At Arden, part of my role is to support and encourage student leadership. I believe students develop leadership skills through service to others. I was looking for an opportunity for our students to provide a service in their community, when one of our school parents spoke to Mr David Watkins, Head of Arden Junior School, about volunteer work she was doing at The Poplars, Estia Aged Care in Epping. She suggested it would be beneficial for the children to visit the residents as she is a strong advocate for the benefits of children spending time with people of an older generation.”
Mrs Hopkins continued: “As a result, small groups of Year 4 students visit the residents fortnightly at The Poplars. During their visits, the students talk to the residents and participate in the morning activities organised by Ann Salter, Lifestyle Coordinator. The activities vary each day; they include word games and crafts.”
The rewards of the partnership have been great. “Our aim at Arden is to instil the importance of service to others,” said Mrs Hopkins. “The children have benefited immensely from their visits. The residents and students learn from each other about aging, experiences, values and aspirations as they talk and interact. The residents and the children enjoy their time together. It is an enriching experience for our students as it helps them reflect on how they can contribute to the wellbeing of others,” she summarised.
Estia’s Ann Salter, agreed: “The residents of The Poplars look forward to the visits from the Arden students. They enjoy their company and love interacting. It really brightens up their day.”
The Year 4 students are clearly embracing this opportunity to serve. When asked why they visit The Poplars, Caden Wu said “To help to do service in the community”, while Benjamin Cohilj shared: “To give joy and happiness to the people who live there.”
Learning from the elderly seems to be the experience the students are enjoying the most. “I enjoyed talking and learning about different people’s lives,” said Caden Wu. Grace Henderson shared: “My favourite part was talking to Elizabeth. She was really nice and asked me questions as well as telling me things about the nursing home. She also answered my questions and wasn’t afraid to talk about anything. She spoke with interest and it was as though she was remembering things as I spoke. Elizabeth was a great story teller and I value that in people.”
Tanya Chi (Year 4) summarised the partnership well when she commented: “Year 4 is visiting Estia because we are learning about one of our school values: service.”