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Youngtown Primary School and the Glenara Lakes Aged Care Facility Partnership

April 5, 2016

Mrs Armitage (Launceston) - Mr President, I am pleased to speak today about a wonderful intergenerational partnership in my electorate of Launceston - the relationship between Youngtown Primary School and the Glenara Lakes retirement village at Youngtown, which dates back to 2008. 

 

At that time the school was running an outdoor gardening program under the leadership of assistant principal Mario Bergamin and teacher assistant Debbie Shegog.  The program aimed to teach the children about principles of landcare sustainability by showing them what is involved in growing vegetables in the garden to putting it on the plate to eat.  At the same time, the Glenara Lakes residents were keen to create beautiful gardens to attract wildlife and to create a national native habitat for the threatened Green and Gold Frog.

 

Glenara Lakes contacted Mario Bergamin and asked whether the school would like to be involved in that project.  'Yes', was the answer, and that was the start of a spectacularly successful program which has kindness, respect, compassion, caring and learning as its core objectives.

 

The two groups selected the appropriate plants from those that grow in the school garden and later planted at Glenara.  Over the years, grade 3 to 6 students have also done weeding, watering plants and successfully assisted in building nest platforms to attract birds, such as ducks, swans and parrots, to the site.

 

The environmental collaboration between Glenara Lakes and Youngtown Primary School, won a Tasmanian Landcare Award in 2012 and also the prestigious People's Choice Award at the 2012 National Landcare awards. 

 

There are a number of other strong connections which have been developed between Glenara Lakes and Youngtown Primary School. Each year, the grade 6 students spend an afternoon at the facility learning to play sports such as croquet, lawn bowls, tennis and table tennis.  Principal Troy Roberts said the children see the residents in a different light as they respect what the residents are sharing with them and the life experience that comes with that knowledge.

 

Another activity that the school does is to grow daffodils in their garden.  In spring the children make cards and take daffodils to give to the senior citizens at Glenara Lakes who may be frail or unwell and unable otherwise to participate in the partnership.  Troy Roberts says the children give the flowers and say, 'This is our gift to you'.  He says that this gives the students such a wonderful high and teaches them about doing a kind deed with compassion and without expectation.

 

Many of the Glenara Lakes residents are moved to tears by this kindness and generosity.  Some residents at the aged care facility also visit the school each week and work one-on-one with students who need help with their reading.  This collaboration has also been very successful.  Periodically the school choir will sing at Glenara and it gives them a real world purpose, namely singing for an appreciative audience.

 

Troy Roberts speaks passionately about how proud he is of the partnership.  He says it supports the emotional growth and wellbeing of the children while honouring the residents by communicating respect for what they contribute to young people. 

 

I close by paying tribute to Youngtown Primary School and Glenara Lakes for demonstrating so powerfully the brilliance and wisdom of intergenerational learning.  To quote principal Troy Roberts, 'It is about creating powerful experiences that become reference points for life'.

 

 

 

 

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