This heartwarming relationship between a Harrogate school and care home is everything
A picture can paint a thousand words - and heartwarming photographs like the ones above and below perfectly capture the joy that pupils at Oatlands Infant School are bringing to residents of a Harrogate care home.
Inspired by the Channel 4 series, Old People’s Home for 4 Year Olds, the school is arranging visits to Larchfield Manor care home throughout the year, so that every class, and every pupil, has the chance to meet residents, share stories, and enjoy activities like arts and crafts and reading together.
Just like the TV show, this link is already having a big impact on both the pupils and the residents - seeing intergenerational friendships blossom, increasing the empathy and understanding of pupils, and tackling issues such as loneliness and isolation.
The deputy manager of Larchfield Manor, Nicola Goodsall, said: "Our residents are fortunate that they live in a home where there are others to interact with, but not all of our residents have family or friends that can visit regularly.
"Schemes like this help to show children that the older generation are not scary, and it is OK to say hello, and to ask if they are OK, and to make them aware that there are people of the older generation in their community that may be feeling lonely, and even their own parents or grandparents may be feeling lonely. Having that interaction with others, especially younger ones, is important.
"The management team, staff and residents wanted to establish a partnership with a primary school in our area. We are lucky to have a primary school within walking distance, and that Oatlands school were just as excited as we were to establish a link."
Oatlands Infant School's deputy headteacher, Kathryn Haddon, said: "We think these intergenerational links are really beneficial to our children - it develops their empathy and understanding, and their communication skills.
"It's also really beneficial for the residents, as our children are full of energy and enjoy chatting with them. I think it gives residents a boost. I think there is a big push towards mental health and wellbeing at the moment, and it would be lovely to see more schools building this kind of relationship with care homes."
And the boost that it gives to Larchfield Manor residents has already been very tangible.
Deputy manager Nicola said: "We have quite a few retired school teachers and it has rekindled their passion for reading. One of our residents after she retired and moved to Harrogate, used to volunteer at Oatlands primary school, and the teachers who have attended with the children do remember her.
"Our residents who are living with dementia have benefited a great deal as they have been taking part in the craft activities, and this helps with their coordination and brings happiness from interacting with young children.
"We have a gentleman who does not attend a lot of activities, but when he knows the children are coming he is straight up to the lounge, he always has a big smile on his face. Going forward as the weather gets warmer, we hope to take advantage of our lovely garden and hold some of the activities outside to get a bit more active. We also intend to invite the children, teachers and their families to events we will be holding over the year, and become a real part of the community."