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Visits bridge generation gap

Short walks by children in Bognor Regis are tackling large age differences.


Children from Bognor Regis Nursery School have become regular visitors to the care home next door.


The weekly sessions at neighbouring Elizabeth House are established as part of the routine for the young people.


Dinosaur dancing, pass the giant balloon, bubble play and ring games have recently joined the activities which those of the different generations enjoy.


Joe Knutson, the nursery’s headteacher, said the sessions had been so successful they had expanded from one to two groups of children and their families.


“Some of the nursery children’s parents who help facilitate the visits feel that their children are learning to be interested in older people and to be responsive towards them.


“The children are beginning to understand that their visits to our neighbours are special for all to us. They feel positive about helping our neighbours to have a happy day.


“The children have so many wonderful activity ideas that they initiate to share with their friends that we are sure we will be enjoying each other’s company for a long time to come,” he said.


The blossoming relationships at the Victoria Drive premises date from Christmas 2017 when children and their parents joined residents as part of the festive singing celebrations.


One of the parents commented it would be a good idea for the 135 children to visit the home regularly.


Talks were held between the county council-run nursery, which has an ‘Outstanding’ rating from Ofsted, and Shaw Homes, which runs the 60-bed home, and the partnership was set up.


“Children from the nursery are invited to go and see our ‘our old friends’ each week and staff very much feel it has become part of the children’s routine and expectations, “said Mr Knutson.


“A regular group of children who show an interest in the project walk to the home with their keyworkers and parents at the same time each week and spend half an hour singing, dancing and chatting to the residents.”


It has become clear as the weeks have passed that relationships are being formed on part sides of the age gap.


A regular group of residents take part in the visits by the original group of children. This features chats between those present about which songs to sing.


Other activities have included planting sunflowers together, weeding the home’s garden and planting new flowers, making salt dough Christmas decorations and playing parachute games.


Mr Knutson added: “As the children’s confidence in a new environment has developed, staff from the nursery have noticed that children who would ordinarily find new experiences daunting have flourished and, over time, are actively able to participate and take a turn.”


The newly formed group of visiting children enjoy taking their singing sessions with their key worker and her ukulele to the home.


Nursery rhymes begin the tuneful times together and then the music selection moves to older songs to the delight of residents.

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