Each Monday afternoon residents at Villa Maria Catholic Homes (VMCH) in Berwick Victoria look forward to a special group of visitors.
A group of children, aged three to six years old, from Beaconsfield Children’s Hub visits the home every week.
They bring cake and self made cards, and each child chooses a book to share with a resident, followed by a special song or dance performance by the children.
Hub Director Samantha Gould says the Generations Together program is the first of its kind for the centre.
“The children are so excited to be part of this program. It is such a treat for them to be able to venture down to our multi-purpose room and they are quite proud to present the residents with the pictures they have made.
“Some of the children are very shy at first but it doesn’t take them long to warm up. After the sessions the children are buzzing with excitement and love to tell us about the time they have spent with their new friends.”
Ms Gould says that having one-on-one time with a resident reading a story has boosted the children’s self-confidence, particularly those without large, extended families.
“Building a relationship with potential role models and having the continuity of an adult figure with them each week has also benefited them greatly,” Ms Gould says.
“Their families have noted this change and have commented on the children’s excitement and positivity when coming home.”
And it’s not only the children who look forward to the Monday afternoon visits at the Hub, the residents are too.
“It’s a very enjoyable time for both the children and the residents,” says VMCH Berwick Lifestyle Coordinator Carolyn Buckley.
“All the residents who have visited the Hub are amazed at how welcoming the children are. It’s a great opportunity to bring the community together from the very young to the more mature.”
Resident Doreen, aged 74, described the children as “very friendly and welcoming”. “They bring us so much joy,” she says.
World War II veteran Stan, great-grandfather to 34 himself, says: “It’s always lovely to be around the children. I was very impressed on how well-behaved they are towards us. I hope they all have a good life.”
Trudi, aged 82, described her first visit as ‘refreshing’. “The children were very loving and I didn’t expect such a positive reaction from beautiful little Madeline.”