Intergenerational programs, such as ABC’s Old People’s Home For 4-Year-Olds, aren’t only for the youngest members of the community. Secondary School students from Parade College, Bundoora regularly visit their next-door neighbours at VMCH Bundoora Aged Care Residence.

The students volunteer their time assisting with and participating in the activities each week. The most popular activity is very competitive bocce game.

The students bring along each of the residents who need assistance, helping them to find the perfect spot for the game. They hand out the bocce balls, place the jack, and facilitate the game. Some residents don’t need much assistance other than being provided with their bocce ball back, while others need some extra help.

The residents clap and cheer for each other or show their disapproval for a misguided throw. At the end of the game, Alf often helps the students work out which team has won by measuring the distance between the balls. He usually does this with a pen or a sheet of paper. There are often some heated discussions about whether Alf’s interpretation is, in fact, correct.

Lydia Pisevski, Leisure and Lifestyle Coordinator said the program with the school has been running for approximately 15 years, with the proximity to the school making it an easy decision to connect.

“We have seen so many benefits with this program,” said Lydia. “The residents are so much happier when they see the students coming in each week. The bocce game is not only physically beneficial for the residents, but there are so many great mental and social outcomes that come from being active and spending time with each other.”

Lydia says the partnership with the school is important, as it promotes long term benefits for both the residents and students.

“For the students, it changes their perceptions about aged care and older people and breaks down the stigma of what aged care residences are like.

“For the residents, they know that they will consistently be able to play bocce. They know that they’ll always have the boys to assist them to get to the game, and then have that time to teach them and play together.”

Bundoora resident Terry appreciates the approachable and friendly nature of the students who come along each week and enjoys seeing them get involved in the sport.

“Having the young ones there is great, it brings back fond memories thinking about when your kids were young.

“Over the years we get to know them, and I love finding out and hearing about what they have planned for their future.”

And some words of wisdom for the younger generation? “Be positive, plan for the future and be true to yourself.”

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