Just 280 metres separates six new pairs of pen pals. But their difference in age spans as much as 80 years.
St Albans nursing home Grantham Green has forged a new partnership with nearby St Albans Meadows Primary School that will pair up six aged-care home residents with six primary school pupils in grades 4, 5 and 6 to foster friendships through hand-written letters.
The project is the brainchild of Grantham Green’s new co-ordinator Gordanna Veljanovski, who wanted to draw some of the home’s more withdrawn residents out of their rooms to engage with the community. She said it should also help educate the children about how to treat their elders.
“The students will learn to appreciate the elderly, rather than looking at them simply as being old,” she said.
“They need to be educated about how valuable our elderly are. These are people who have been through war.”
One such resident is 92-year-old pen pal Gerda Plepis, who fled Germany for Australia towards the end of WWII in 1948. She made herself at home in St Albans and has never left.
Ms Veljanovski said Gerda loved young children and was looking forward to swapping tales with her new pen pal.
St Albans Meadows principal Steve Crockford said the pupils had a lot to gain from the partnership with Grantham Green.
“This is a little club we started that we think has a lot of legs,” he said.
“The pen pal project will give them a sense of community and citizenship, this is about caring for people who might be feeling isolated.
“We want our children to realise they’re part of something bigger.”