New relationships forged through memoirs project

In early November, eight Year 10 English students from St Joseph’s Regional College English presented the Memoirs they wrote as part of their major assessment for the year, to the four CCA Mount Carmel residents who they interviewed for the project.

St Joseph’s Regional College students: Cara Dowse-Collyer and Courtney Fyffe interviewed Honor Morcom; Isaac Plunkett and Dane Trotter talked with John Warrener; Bec Moss and Tara Young spoke with Joe Sumeghy; and Ashleigh Grace and Tyla Lewis-Bain* interviewed Marie Grealish.

Frank Johnston, Memoirs Project Coordinator for St Joseph’s Regional College, said the project drew on elements of IT, literacy, history and community service.

“After meeting with the residents on several occasions to gather information, stories and photos, the students also did some research on the residents to fill in the historical gaps,” he said.

“They also captured sound recordings of the residents telling their stories, which was also important from an historical perspective.”

Father Paul Gooley, who attended the event, said, “This is a real success story. You have residents and students here together celebrating the project and each other.”

Several intergenerational programs run between the Parish Schools and its Catholic Care of the Aged facilities.

The program, run as a pilot this year, has further strengthened links between the Parish schools and CCA, fostering friendships between the generations. It far exceeded the expectations of both St Joseph’s Regional College and CCA.

From St Joseph’s Regional College perspective, the students engaged with enthusiasm in the project, returning to school sharing stories about the people they interviewed. They learnt about past lives, empathised with stories of loss and enjoyed hearing some ripping yarns.

College principal Jim Dempsey said the pilot was one of the most touching programs he had experienced in over 30 years in education.

“This project has created a deep connection between students and the residents and a connection with St Agnes’ Parish.”

“Frank Johnston saw a need for such a program and acted on it with initiative and innovation,” he added.

From a CCA perspective, the outcomes were outstanding. Residents eagerly awaited their students when a visits’ was organised. They found recapturing the past, brought back old, sometimes, untold memories. They felt that telling their stories made them feel part of their community again – that someone wanted to know them!

Heather Nicholson (Manager St Agnes’ site) said the integration of the students and the residents gave them the chance to enjoy each other’s company.

“It teaches the students that they can communicate effectively with older residents; that they are not fragile but just really special people,” said Heather.

The goodwill created by this program amongst the participants is worth its weight in gold as it made each person feel richer for being involved.

A shared afternoon tea followed the presentations.

*Tyla was not able to be at the presentation

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