New playgroup makes connections across generations

Centacare Mid North Coast (MNC) and Catholic Care of the Aged have partnered to provide free, weekly intergenerational playgroups for the community.

Centacare MNC Community Services Manager Don Mackenzie says while the ABC TV documentary ‘Old People’s Homes for 4 Year Olds’ has popularised the concept, the benefits of intergenerational playgroup programs have been felt for over a decade.

“Our brains never stop learning, no matter what age we are and it is well known that playgroups successfully connect families for socialisation, support and to share stories. Our intergenerational playgroup brings three generations together, but with the same evidence-based goals of health and wellbeing,” Don said.

“Intergenerational playgroups are particularly well-received by residents who do not have relatives or family nearby, encouraging connections and companionship that span across generations.”

Don Mackenzie says there are numerous benefits to residents in aged care who take part in the playgroups including improved memory and mood, social engagement, motor skills and increased physical strength, parent/child interactions as well as a chance to recall their experiences as a child or with parenting their own children.

“Children get a lot out of the program too as early childhood is a critical and sensitive period for their social emotional learning. They are beginning to develop their speech and language skills through interactions with older adults and become more confident and comfortable in establishing connections with people of different ages and outside their immediate family group.”

“It becomes a meaningful activity for children, parents and residents alike.”

“Our new intergenerational playgroup, ‘Come Yarn and Play’, is based at Maryknoll in Lochnivar Place and will begin from Friday 18 October. It is based on the success of our Community Connections program, which has brought together residents from St Agnes’ Hostel with children from St Agnes Early Education Centre for almost 11 years,” he said.

Don said the ‘Come Yarn and Play’ playgroup meets in a child-friendly space where fun and creative learning activities are provided including: play-based games; outdoor excursions and discoveries; story-telling; art and craft; and music and dance.

‘Come Yarn and Play’ playgroups will run every Friday from 10:30am – 12pm. Book your spot or find out more information about the playgroup by contacting Centacare on 02 6581 6800 or connect via Centacare Mid North Coast’s Facebook page.

Centacare Mid North Coast and Catholic Care of the Aged are part of St Agnes’ Parish Port Macquarie.