Children keeping elderly young at heart

June 27, 2017

 Children keeping elderly young at heart

Jim Flaming with a new friend from the playgroup. Photo: Supplied

West Auckland rest home residents have found a way to brighten up their “long, lonely days” thanks to an inspired educator.

Selena Irving, a teacher at Titirangi's Woodlands Park School recently introduced a playgroup at Terence Kennedy House, an aged care hospital in Glen Eden.

Pre-school children are entertained with toys and games at the home, while elderly residents join in.

Ms Irving was put onto the playgroup idea when she heard about a documentary that had been made in the United States.

The documentary, called Present Perfect, focused on growing up and growing old.

Ms Irving discovered it more than a year ago sparking the idea to create something similar in New Zealand at her local retirement home.

“I sat on the idea for a year, and then decided – ‘I’m going to try it.’”

In order to gain interest and get as many young children involved as possible, she posted in the Glen Eden community page, but the post did not have a large response.

“There was only three of us to start with – but in a way this was a good thing, as it got the residents used to the idea.”

Ms Irving then decided that she would post to the Titirangi community page, as it had a bigger following.

The post had a positive response, with many people asking to sign up their child or children and wanting to get involved.

“[The playgroup] brings back memories to them – of their own children, or their younger selves, and it gives them something to make their day better.”

One of the men who attended the playgroup told Ms Irving it allowed him to “forget about how hard it was for him”.

Ms Irving holds the group from 9am to 11.30am every Thursday.

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