Students at Greater Shepparton Secondary College have spent their time away from classrooms during COVID lockdown tackling loneliness among senior members of their community, with an initiative called Gen Connection.
Image source: Greater Shepparton Lighthouse Project
This is Shepparton’s Story of Gratitude for its inspiring educators and students helping combat senior citizen loneliness.
In any given year, around one in 10 people experience a period of loneliness and unfortunately, senior citizens are usually at the forefront. With the addition of restrictions on seeing family and friends in recent months, the impact on loneliness will no doubt be greater and more long-lasting.
Greater Shepparton Secondary College students in years 9,11 and 12 set about writing biographies of local senior community members as a lockdown project. The project, Gen Connection, links students with a senior community member in a buddy system, with the aim of getting to know them and discussing their life. The students phone their buddy twice a week and will eventually gain enough information to write their biography.
According to an interview with the ABC, it appears students are leading by example: Ms Robinson, the brain behind the initiative reported that the initial 30 student participation has now grown to around 55, “We’re looking for more mentors to come on board; we have plenty of young people who are keen to get involved moving forward.”
Whilst the initiative started as a means of “just connecting and sharing stories”, it has grown to an important support system for senior mentors. “It also has the dual benefit of supporting older people who are feeling isolated during these trying times”, Ms Robinson reports.
The initiative is a fantastic way to combat loneliness in senior community members; not only spending time with bright students and good conversation, but having students benefit from the lessons learnt from this innovative method of teaching during a period of remote learning.
We’ve all had to change the way we do things during this period of time and education has been no exception to that. Moving away from the traditional curriculum and using technology to connect students with community members gives us a glimpse at what the future could hold for education.
Just imagine if every willing senior member of the community had phone calls from young students to enjoy each week, and every student had first-hand insight into the lives and experiences from the generations before them. How truly connected we would become.
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