A Victorian community volunteering program, involving residents from aged care provider Allity, is making a difference in the lives of a group of local students living with autism.
Aged between 11 and 13 years old, the Southern Autistic School students travel to Allity’s Claremont Terrace, which offers low level permanent or respite care to the aged, once a week for structured activities with residents.
The benefit of the intergenerational program is two sided. Students are able to recognise that they’re still “competent” and active members of the community. They also help residents to become more ‘tech savvy’ by showing the residents how to use an iPad, and residents have the opportunity to meet new people and learn new skills.
Anna Mather, Claremont Terrace lifestlye coordinator, says in Allity’s latest edition of its seasonal newsletter, Family & Friends, that the involvement in decision making is important for students.
“It helps to empower them and to encourage them to engage in the program,” Ms Mather says.
The program was first piloted at Claremont Terrace for the second half of the 2011 school year. It has now become a regular program for the 2013 curriculum at Southern Autistic School.