Blue Mountains News
Intergenerational Playgroup Mondays at Tabulam Cottages
“The number of Australians aged 65 and over is projected to more than double in the next 40 years. As a result, Lithgow Council has supported the drive from state and federal governments to create open and engaging spaces in aged care facilities to connect residents to their broader communities,” said Mayor Cr Ray Thompson.
The Intergenerational Playgroup, initiated by Lithgow Council in 2018 to help combat isolation and loneliness experienced by the elderly, has been very popular amongst children and residents alike.
“There’s something very spontaneous and heart-warming about the way children offer their enthusiasm and make a bid for connection and play,” said Lithgow City Council Community Development Officer, Viktoria Gulabovski.
“People with dementia prefer to talk about the past because they often find the present confusing. So when they have conversations with adults, who are constantly trying to re-orient them to the present, they may come across confused or disengaged. With children however, there’s none of that. They just want to play,” said Mila Blofield, Lifestyle Officer at Tabulam Cottages.
Even the best aged care facilities can be clinical, hospital-like environments, but when toddlers and pre-schoolers enter the building, the space is transformed. “The purpose of the children spending time with the elderly is so they integrate and learn things from each other. The little ones meet their friends at Tabulam every Monday and do activities, read stories and sing songs together,” said Lydia Commins, Manager Communities & Kids (LINC).
“One of our favourite songs to sing is ‘The More We Get Together’ – a nursery rhyme about friendship and happiness,” continued Ms Commins. "We often sing this song towards the end of the playgroup, while standing in a circle holding hands”.
As human beings we all need a sense of purpose no matter what our age. We all need to feel valued and worthy and respected for what we contribute in society.
“I reckon it’s beautiful to have the kids here. The faces of the little ones, their energy and joy, it just brings us all back into our lives again,” said Jim, a resident of Tabulam Cottages.
“Traditionally the role of our elders has been to connect us to our history and past, and the things that have made us who we are. So when the young and old come together at Tabulam Cottages on Monday mornings we see meaningful interactions and genuine friendships,” said Ms Gulabovski.
While the intergenerational playgroup is currently being trialled and set to wrap up in a few weeks, the basis of the pilot has always been supported by principles of sustainable community development. Council has been in conversation with Blinky Bill Preschool who are keen to join forces with Tabulam to hopefully continue the intergenerational playgroup into the future.
For further information on the Intergenerational Playgroup Program, please contact Viktoria Gulabovski, Community Development Officer and Project Lead on (02) 6354 9999. Special thanks to Family & Community Services for their Liveable Communities Grant Program.
“The more we get together
Oh, the more we get together
The happier we'll be
'Cause your friends are my friends
And my friends are your friends
The more we get together
The happier we'll be”.
- Songwriters: Ken Whiteley and Raffi Cavoukian
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