Connecting Sunshine Coast seniors is child’s play

August 2020 |

In 2019, Lutheran Services embarked on an exciting intergenerational initiative to bring together elder citizens and young children in the community – ‘to spend time together and share moments of joy and wonder’. The project was aptly named ‘Moving Moments’.

With financial support from the Australian Health Department’s Commonwealth Home Support Program, a pilot project began in Buderim on the Sunshine Coast – involving children from Immanuel Early Learning Centre and residents of Immanuel Gardens Retirement Living.

The pre-schoolers and elders would come together to take part in a range of fun activities, after which the grown-ups could enjoy lunch together. The pilot project was designed to explore the potential health and wellbeing benefits for seniors.

As David Gerrand from the Lutheran Services Creative Engagement Team explains, there’s much more to Moving Moments than just fun and games.

“The Sunshine Coast is home to more than 70,000 people aged over 70. Many seniors report feeling isolated due to factors such as reduced mobility, no longer driving and loved ones moving away or simply being too busy.”

David sees Moving Moments has two broad aims.

“Firstly, to bring joy and connection for seniors who may feel isolated. And secondly, to break down intergenerational barriers, building valuable interactions between young and old. Moving Moments fosters connection and strengthens community involvement as our elder participants build new relationships with the children and each other.”

And it was all going swimmingly until COVID-19 and physical distancing came along!

“We had built this wonderful social program, then suddenly we were no longer able to socialise! We had to make the transition from physical gatherings to virtual interactions.”

As David explains, Moving Moments has now gone from strengthening social connection to building technological capabilities.

“We spent time teaching our elders to use their smart phones and tablets to communicate and connect via Zoom and FaceTime. Of course the kids were already very tech savvy. Now we have virtual art and craft sessions and exchange the things we make. We even have a virtual choir, so we’re singing together across the social divide.

“The added benefit is that, while remaining connected to the kids, our elders also built more contact with their families and friends. Those who had never used such communication technology before have now become enthusiastic advocates.”

Moving Moments has attracted strong community interest and featured widely in the media. A recent independent assessment of the pilot program has demonstrated increased wellbeing for senior participants through greater social connection.

Best of all, lots of new friends have been made, with tons of fun along the way – and there’s so much more to come. Face-to-face sessions are finally back on the cards.

And Lutheran Services is expanding the project to new communities and regions in South-East Queensland.

For more info on Moving Moments and how you could be part of something wonderful, looky here …