How do older people ‘inspire’ you?

How do older people ‘inspire’ you? .

Photo: How do older people ‘inspire’ you? . (Source: Shutterstock)

For the past few months, Victorian secondary school students have been getting to know seniors from all walks of life.

The students have been recording older Victorians’ experiences to create a short film based on the question: ‘How do older people inspire you?’ In just a few weeks, their films will form the basis of an intergenerational themed event as part of the 2012 Victorian Seniors Festival.

The Be Inspired! Intergenerational conversations through film event will be judged by Triple M presenter Mick Molloy, ABC 774’s movie guru Rhett Bartlett and national chief executive of Leading Age Service Australia, Gerard Mansour.

Two of the judges will join a panel to discuss how to facilitate intergenerational relationships and understanding, before deliberating and presenting students with prizes.

The intergenerational film competition is the brainchild of peak aged care body Leading Age Services Australia - Victoria (LASA Victoria), as well as Victorian aged and community care providers: Aged Care Services Group Australia, Alzheimer’s Australia Vic, Annecto, Arcare, Baptcare, Benetas, Blue Cross Community and Residential Care, TLC Aged Care and Villa Maria.

Now in its third year, Be Inspired! celebrates the achievements and aspirations of older people and promotes a positive image of ageing in the community.

For Year 7 Footscray City College students – Shaemus, Mario and Keanu – visiting grandmother of seven, Ann Holmes, has been an eye-opening experience.

Ms Holmes, who was born in Northern Ireland and immigrated to Australia in 1950, shared with the boys her teenage memories as a Private in the British Royal Artillery during WWII.

“I was based on a gun site and basically had to keep the command post maintained as we had to be ready for action any time,” she says. “It was all work, work, work, and we never got much time off.”

Shaemus, who has lived across the road from Ms Holmes since January, says he chose his neighbour as the subject of their film because she is “inspiring” and has “lots of life experience”.

“Back then it was kind of normal to go off to war, which is hard to imagine because young people these days just wake up and go to school and hang around with friends.

“Ms Holmes told us that during the war someone right near her got cut on the arm by some shrapnel – but she had to keep carrying on. If that happened to me, I would find it really scary and I’m not sure how I’d cope. We learned Ms Holmes was very brave and never gave up.”

Ms Holmes enjoyed the filming process and the time spent with the students. She says it even made her reflect on her youth and see  her past through another person’s eyes.

Kate Hough, LASA Victoria’s acting chief executive, says the films have created a fantastic opportunity to showcase and discuss intergenerational friendships and understanding.

“Our older Victorians have wonderful experiences to share with younger people. This competition has enabled stories like Ms Holmes’ to be captured and to inspire younger generations.

“Every day in Victoria our aged care system provides care for more than 50,000 older people - every one of whom has helped make our country what it is today. To ensure the best quality care for our older Victorians, it is vital we work towards a viable and sustainable aged care industry that is adequately funded by government,” Ms Hough says.

The top three films will receive prize packs, trophies and cash prizes for their schools. The event is free to attend. For more information, click here.