Students fed back that their first week last week together with the residents was “exciting, fun, interesting and cool”, citing the top things they enjoyed ” hearing their stories” and “just hanging out together”
One of many highlight moments of Week 3 was when one of the students beckoned me over to say how cool it was that when she asked her buddy Elder one of the conversation starter questions
“Who is a person in history you admire most? ” she said the former female president of India ….. because she “made everyone look up to a woman”.
Not only are the residents teaching the students a thing or two about history and important role models …. they are proving to be quite amazing role models in resilience themselves.
The Elders taking part from Bupa Maroubra are reporting back how wonderful it is to have the company of such “polite, lovely and very funny students”.
I’ve written previously about how in Feb 2017 I attended a Rites Of Passage Leadership training that helped give me a great design structure for S.T.E.P ( Seniors and Teens Empathy Program) … well, while I was there, I also put together this simple little vision of my aim for the program to simply bring “Together” the young and old, their stories being the bridge that connects them.
I am so thrilled to report that today I finally got to introduce students from Maroubra’s Bowen College Youth off the Streets to some of the wonderful residents my own children and I have gotten to know over the past two years … yes, S.T.E.P has made it to Bupa Maroubra Junction! The TOGETHER I have been working towards for my own Maroubra community has lift-off.
I have to admit, I was a bit nervous about how it might go… Bupa Maroubra is a high care home and some students admitted when they arrived they were feeling a bit scared to be there – it can be a confronting environment when you first walk in if you’ve never visited before…. but half an hour into it we had one student and a resident speaking Greek together and others chatting about the old days when trams used to run to Coogee beach.
Once again, I’ve been blown away by being witness to the power that sharing stories has to connect the unlikeliest of people. We all have our stories… and, though sometimes we may not know it, often, deep down, we all want to share them with someone.
A great introduction session yesterday with Youth Off the Streets Bowen College for their upcoming S.T.E.P ( Seniors and Teens Empathy Program) with Bupa Maroubra Aged Care.
It should come as no surprise if you have sat through a bulleted “death by powerpoint meeting”, that Amazon Founder and CEO Jeff Bezos has replaced powerpoint presentations with narrative memos at Amazon.
What is surprising is that it’s taken us this long to realise we need to go back to basics.
What would you prefer … someone, to intrigue you with the story about what’s happening in the picture of Rosa Parks, or provide you with a list of historical bullet points?
As Carmin Gallo reminds us;
Narrative storytelling might not have been as critical for our survival as a species as food–but it comes close. Anthropologists say that when humans gained control of fire, it marked a major milestone in human development. Our ancestors were able to cook food, which was a big plus.
But it also had a second benefit.
People sat around campfires swapping stories. Stories served as instruction, warning, and inspiration.
Stories are persuasive… they inform, illuminate and inspire. Neuroscientists have found that emotion is the fastest path to the brain. In other words, if you want your ideas to spread, story is the single best vehicle we have to transfer that idea to another person.
We knew it back in the days of sitting around campfires, it’s good to see the richest man in the world has figured it out too ….
Read the rest of Carmin’s article here and next time you feel tempted to use bullet points, remember…
Bullet points on a slide, don’t inspire.
Stories that convey heart and soul, do
…. understanding from STEP Teens helps alleviate fears of the Elderly
Some of the benefits to our youth of an intergenerational program like STEP were relayed by our lovely Teen participants from last year Amy and Imogen telling us they had more confidence to make new friends and felt gratitude for living in a day and age where they have such incredible opportunties as young women …
Heart and Soul Story was privileged to be present at the launch of Youth Off the Streets Bowen College in Maroubra today, and hear how well the current students are doing there.
Bowen College is one of Youth off the Street’s four accredited high schools dedicated to providing tailored and focused education for students who may be at risk of falling behind in mainstream schooling. Bowen Campus offers a curriculum catering for students’ academic, psychological and vocational needs
According to Marc Freedman, Fostering Intergenerational relationships for at-risk youth
“Many at-risk youth are growing up isolated from the range of caring and consistent adult relationships so important for navigating the treacherous course from adolescence to adulthood. An accumulation of research from the social sciences suggests that adult relationships — provided not only by parents, but by grandparents, neighbours and other interested elders — are a common factor among resilient children, who achieve success despite growing up under disadvantaged and stressful circumstances. ”
Marc’s goes on to cite a study from Philidelphia that looked at five intergenerational initiatives and aimed to provide a better understanding of what really happens when elders and at-risk youth are brought together. Amongst others, key findings were;
Perhaps one of the study’s most striking findings is that the most effective elders were individuals who had not lived what would commonly be considered “successful” lives. Many had endured strained family relationships, struggled at low-paying jobs, and battled personal problems, such as alcohol abuse. Partly as a result of surviving–and surmounting–such difficulties, these elders seemed to understand the youth, were able to use their own experience as real-world teaching tools, and speak the language of their young partners.
Heart and Soul Story will be working closely with the amazing and committed team at Youth off the Streets Bowen College to develop the Seniors and Teens Empathy Program (STEP) to best fit the needs of the teens of Bowen and the Aged Care residents of Bupa Aged Care Maroubra. in the hope we can report similar results in the not too distant future.
I’d love to see the result of a collaborative effort between the likes of Melbourne base ThomsonAdsett who are leading the way in Aged Care design in Australia and architect Takaharu Tezuka, who has designed this incredible space for children in Tokyo (that allows for freedom, increased outdoor activity, open plan to foster social interaction, trees for climbing)
Just imagine an intergenerational facility full of life and soul that their combined creative brains could come up with???
Still reeling from shock that I won!
My heartfelt thanks to Awesome Foundation Sydney for the opportunity to pitch my idea for STEP (Seniors and Teens Empathy Program) last night and the incredible effort you all go to, to give community-based projects a much needed helping hand.
Thanks to all those last night who believed in the vision of what I am doing!
I was honoured to stand alongside 4 amazing women, each with incredible community projects including Taboo Talk, Attitude Foundation Limited, Cook For Life Foundation Jewelz A Hoopz – check them out… they rock, and I am already thinking about a collaborative program bonanza that the Seniors and Teens will love ! All in time ….
A special shout out and thanks also to Kids Giving Back Co Founder Ruth Tofler-Riesel for your constant belief and support, help recruiting the teens for the pilot, and introduction to Youth Off The Streets Bowen College Maroubra who will be the next teens to take part in STEP Bupa Australia Aged Care Maroubra.
I’ll keep you all posted on how it goes!