Students from the Ministry Team, Young Vinnies and Young Mercies have been busy writing letters to the residents at the Carinya Aged Care facility in Bicton. With social isolation and loneliness a reality for many in aged care, the students were looking for ways to connect with the elderly in their local community. While students cannot visit in person as they did pre-COVID, they still wanted the residents to feel connected and ultimately bring some joy to their lives.
The project, initiated by the leaders of the Student Ministry team, aims to bring generations together. Through the exchange of letters, the elderly will see the hope, enthusiasm and wonder of the youth, and young people can benefit from the wisdom older people can offer. “And gain some wisdom from those who have lived a long time”. (Job 12:12)
Research shows that social isolation promotes dementia, lethargy, and a multitude of other adverse health issues in older people. Too much time spent online robs young people of needed face to face connections and important aspects of social development. Additionally, more young people lack confidence in writing and spelling as they are digital natives who have had very little practice at handwriting. For the aged care residents, reading and replying to letters assists with recall and cognitive function and the young people get to practice their writing and handwriting skills.
The long-term plan is for a sustainable pen-pal program to develop from this initiative. If this can be achieved, a lasting connection and inter-generational learning will be forged between the young people and their elderly pen pals. We hope that in the future, they’ll be able to connect again face to face.
Here is what some of the Year 7 students have to say about the experience:
“My favourite part about writing the letter was that we get to make a difference in our community because we are reaching out to someone who might not get many presents or cards to make them happy.” Claudia Taylor-Beard, Student Ministry
“I really enjoyed writing my letter because I got to connect with people at Carinya Aged Care. I hope I can continue to write letters and maintain contact with them.” Alyssa Thomson, Young Vinnies
“The best thing about writing the letter is that we get to bond and share our interests with the elderly and bring them some joy.” Tahlia Allen, Student Ministry
What I enjoyed most about writing the letters was that I knew it would make one person who I didn’t know smile, and I really hope it made their day. Sofia Abrahams, Student Ministry