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Children’s letters deliver happiness to older residents as part of ‘intergenerational project'

Published on 23 July 2020
Categories:
  • Children and young people
  • Community
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An old-school method of keeping in touch has been adopted by local school children and older Maroondah residents in a bid to maintain connections during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Children are penning letters to isolated elderly residents across Maroondah as a way of staying connected and to let them know they are being thought of.

More than 500 handwritten letters from seven local primary schools have been sent to residents as part of an intergenerational project being run by Council with the community.

The project aims to build positive connections between young people and older residents, many of whom have been forced to isolate during the pandemic.

Maroondah Mayor Cr Mike Symon said the project was particularly important during the current COVID-pandemic which, for some, had only increased feelings of loneliness.

“The heartfelt letters have helped to bring joy to residents, particularly at a time when strict stay-at-home orders have been reimposed and regular social activities are cancelled. For older residents, especially those who live alone, the lockdown can amplify feelings of isolation,” Cr Symon said.

The letters are being delivered to older people who access Council services, including Delivered Meals and Social Support programs, as well as to some residents living in residential aged care and retirement villages.

“With letter-writing increasingly absent in the digital age, it’s wonderful to see children turning off their screens and picking up a pen. There’s also something more personal about receiving a handwritten letter. It’s something that the receiver is more likely to keep, remember and treasure than an email,” Cr Symon said.

“The joy a person gets from opening a letter will let them know that they are very much an important part of our community and that there are people thinking about them,” he added.

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One pupil wrote: “How are you? I’ve been back at school for three weeks now, and I’m writing to know if you’re ok, to know what you’ve been doing while you’re stuck at home in isolation and to let you know you’re still a valued member of our community. What are you looking forward to after this is all over? What are your hobbies? Do you have any pets? What did you do in isolation?”

A resident responding to a letter wrote: “It was so nice to get a letter and realise there are people thinking about seniors in these worrying times,” part of the letter read.

Another resident wrote: “It was a very nice surprise when I received your letter…great to hear from you and I have been smiling ever since.”

“Giving children the opportunity to write letters to residents is a fantastic means of keeping our senior community engaged while also helping kids expand their writing and social skills,” Cr Symon said.

The letter writing project has enabled participants to be part of the Be Kind Maroondah campaign which encourages acts of kindness.

“In times of uncertainty, the smallest act of kindness can make a world of difference. We want to share these stories with our community and inspire others to also be kind,” he added.

Find out more about the Be Kind Maroondah initiative

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