Freedom Aged Care Cleveland teamed 14 of its residents up with 17 local High School students as part of the extracurricular activity.
Running during term 3 with fortnightly catch ups over the 10 weeks, Freedom Aged Care Marketing Manager Juanita Rowe says the initiative saw students meet, chat and ‘chinwag’ with residents who were able to share their stories and memories from a lifetime - with the final result being a published coffee-table book called Faces of Freedom.
“Within our communities we have about one million stories that are yet to be captured,” she says.
“We wanted to capture the stories in a unique way so we decided to contact Wellington Point High School.
“There were a lot of conversations about ‘back in my day…’ and a lot of teaching and wisdom was shared.”
Ms Rowe says it was an ‘incredible experience’ and that all of the feedback to come out of the program has been positive from students and residents alike.
“Watching the bond that was formed between the students and the residents was unbelievable,” she says.
“Students would bring gifts for the residents and the residents would also give the students gifts.
“It was such an incredible and very humbling experience watching the relationships grow.”
As well as creating lifelong memories, Ms Rowe says students, just like Eleesha, also got to experience some learning outside of the classroom.
“I loved the friendly environment, the inspirational elders and the beautiful stories shared and how they opened up to us and let us take a small part of their lives and write about it,” Eleesha says.
“I have enjoyed every moment of being part of this project and I have learnt a lot in this experience.
“The experience definitely gave me a new outlook on older people and I have learnt that you just need to take life as it is and enjoy every moment.
“My resident showed me that life problems don’t have to be the only thing we focus on, that focusing on the positives and laughing will get you further.
“I was overwhelmed by the love, joy and happiness that they showed and how open they were to talking to us.
“They showed respect and really did love talking and being around us.”
Ms Rowe says that it wasn’t just the students who received benefit from the program, she says residents just like Dawn Adams, 81, also enjoyed the experience.
“I thoroughly enjoyed taking part in the project - it was something I’d definitely do again,” Ms Adams says.
“It was great to remember all the old memories and learning about the people.”
As part of the program, a prize will be presented for the best Faces of Freedom story with the winner determined by a combination of popular vote and academic results.
The winning story and students will be announced during a school assembly on Thursday 2 November.