Intergenerational program builds community connections

Bubup Womindjeka Family and Children’s Centre’s Intergenerational program is building connections between generations. 

Bubup Womindjeka Family and Children’s Centre, in collaboration with Star Health, have developed an Intergenerational program to help build connections between the centre’s youngest learners and the community.

Through local community groups the centre engages local retirees (InterG’s) who volunteer to regularly visit their kindergarten and the younger children in childcare. 

The InterG’s chat, play, learn and engage with the children while also listening and showing genuine interest in them. 

Heather Kerr, an Outdoor Environment Coordinator at the centre, describes how the InterG’s form connections with the children by just being themselves. 

‘They may sit and join the playdough table, read a story to a small group of children, join them for afternoon or morning tea or sit with them outside as they play,’ Heather said. 

‘There are no formal or set activities that they need to complete.’ 

Many of the young children who attend the Bubup Womindjeka Family and Children’s Centre do not have regular contact with a grandparent or older adult. 

The centre saw an opportunity to build connections between the generations locally and launched the Intergenerational program in February 2018. 

Initially introduced as a five-week trial, the program was then rolled out across the service due to its overwhelming success.  

Heather has seen great benefits to both the children at the centre, their families and the InterG’s involved in the program. 

‘The building of trusting relationships between the youngest and some of the oldest members of our local community is the greatest benefit of the program,’ Heather said. 

‘When out in the community, for example shopping, and the children see an InterG they will say hello. The families report back to tell us how special that is, as it builds their sense of belonging and connection to the community.’ 

The program is also benefiting employees at the centre. 

‘An unexpected benefit has been the opportunity for many of our young staff to witness older people being active, engaged and through volunteering, contributing meaningfully to their own lives and the lives of others,’ Heather said. 

The Intergenerational program was a finalist for Creating Collaborative Community Partnerships Award at the 2020 Victorian Early Years Awards. These annual awards recognise the outstanding work of the early childhood sector to improve learning, health and wellbeing of Victorian children and families.  

Nominations for this year’s awards are open until Monday 14 June. For information about the award categories and how to nominate, visit the Victorian Early Years Awards web page. 

Find out more

This year, Education Week celebrates the theme ‘Building Connections’. 

It is an opportunity for all primary and secondary schools, higher education, and early childhood services to showcase how they are building connections with the community around them. 

Education Week will run from 23-29 May.