“Our students are already showing empathy and are learning from experiences from the past”

Screen Shot 2018-06-21 at 10.19.02 am.pngWith one final week of our 8 weeks of STEP coming up next week, it was time to get some feedback from the @youthoffthestreets Bowen College School Manager on what she has enjoyed about the program…

“Watching the young people take the time and having patience with the Bupa residents …. seeing rapport building up more and more each session between the students and residents.”

” Our students are already showing empathy and are learning from experiences from the past.”

“We really value this program. It is worthwhile, community spirited and builds empathy.”

 Bringing community back together like this is as much about educating our young people’s hearts as well as their minds.

#seniorsandteensempathyprogram #intergenerationalprogram #intergenerationalprograms #stories4connection #youthoffthestreets #heartandsoulstory #bupaagedcare #bringingcommunitybacktogether

“Music gives a soul to the universe… and life to everything.” 

week 6 b

Around 2,500 years ago, Plato summed up the power of music up perfectly when he said

“Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination and life to everything.”

The power of music to connect was seen is spades as laughter, tears and plenty of toe-tapping was shared by students and their Elder buddies during yesterday’s session of STEP (Senior and Teens Empathy Program).

A Spotify playlist of songs from yesteryear and today provided the perfect conversation starter and brought the generations closer as they teamed up in two groups for a ‘fierce’ competition to guess songs.

In a  2013 review of the research on music, Stefan Koelsch, music psychologist at the Freie University Berlin, described several mechanisms through which music impacts our ability to connect with one another—by impacting brain circuits involved in empathy, trust, and cooperation—perhaps explaining how it has survived in every culture of the world. ( Jill Suttie, Four ways Music Strengthens Social Bonds)

Music gives us an oxytocin boost … Oxytocin is a neuropeptide affiliated with breast-feeding and sexual contact, and is known to play an important role in increasing bonding and trust between people. Now researchers are discovering that music may affect oxytocin levels in the body.

Music is included as part of the design of STEP sessions as deliberate means of empathy building. The power of the love of music helping highlight another example of an equaliser between generations.

#seniorsandteensempathyprogram #intergenerationalprogram #YouthofftheStreets #BupaAgedCare#intergenerationalprograms #heartandsoulstory #stories4connection  #music4life #musicconnectspeople

 

“I don’t think she has heard a story like mine before… I knew I had a heart reaction”

 

So great to see both the students from Youth off the Streets and their Elders enjoying their time together so much during the STEP.

Unfortunately, last week the YOTS students had a clash of programs, so missed their visit to Bupa Maroubra … but no fear .. with the wonders of modern technology, the hip and happening septuagenarians and octogenarians ( phew that’s a mouthful) managed to record these lovely messages for their teen buddies.

John, born in Greece in 1933, is one of the residents at Bupa Maroubra participating in STEP (Seniors and Teens Empathy Program).  He is loving how polite and interesting and the teen he has been partnered with is.

” I like how intelligent she is, it’s very nice to talk to her and

I like the students learning about our lives”.

 John was asked what he’d rate the ‘life conversation’ sessions he’s had so far with the teens from 1 – 10 … he gave it a 10.5!

When Judy, aged 71, was asked what she is getting out of the Seniors and Teens Empathy Program thus far she replied

I don’t think she has heard a story like mine before… I didn’t want to see her cry, but I knew I had a heart reaction … I can touch someone else’s life”.

The students have described one of their favourite things about their sessions being that

 We get to see that they are very much just like us”. 

Everyone has a story that can touch another’s life in some way.

We just need to make the time and space to listen.

 

STEP educating hearts as well as minds…

 


Youth off the Streets Bowen College students were back for more conversations and laughter at Bupa Aged Care Maroubra for Week 3 of STEP ( Seniors and Teens Empathy Program).

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”.

 

STEP kicks off with Youth off the Streets Bowen College

 

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.

Harvey & Eddie helped lighten things up by proving not all 84 plus-year-olds are what you’d imagine… it was good for a few laughs, watch their hilarious interview here
We also covered some of the more serious topics, often elephants in the room, like Dementia and… yes… even Death.
The students from Bowen College have their first meet up with their Elder buddies next week for a term long program of S.T.E.P that will involve games, activities and most importantly, sharing of their stories.
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Heart and Soul Story also ran an introduction session for residents taking part at Bupa Maroubra this afternoon, and they were equally interested to hear about the teens they will be meeting next week … they spent time reflecting on what life was like when they were and teen and talking about some of the challenges and opportunities teens have today.
All in all, a great day spent separately getting Teens and Seniors to look through each other’s eyes … but the real richness starts next week when they start their journey together.
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The two way street of Intergenerational programs …

 

…. understanding from STEP Teens helps alleviate fears of the Elderly

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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 …

It’s important to hear about what the program meant to some of the amazing women at the other end of their lives. Today we hear from Margaret, who was taken by how easy and delightful it was to chat with such vibrant teens. The beneficial effect of the weekly conversations with her buddy, Immy, is evident as she tells us how she now finds it now not so scary to talk with other young girls the same age now given the understanding shown to her by the teens.
The studied benefits of intergeneratonal programs are numerous, you can go hear to The Senior Care Blog  to read more, however, sometimes it’s what really hits home is to hear it first hand from those taking part, so I’d encourage you to take the less then a minute to hear what Mararget had to say.

 

 

Youth, off the Streets …. and soon to be visiting their community Elders

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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;

  • Bonds between Elders and youth will form in social programs structured for that purpose
  • Despite a sharply age-segregated society, participants in most cases were able to forge powerful attachments
  • These relationships appear to help change the life trajectory of the youth .. from one headed for failure to a more adaptive path of survival.
  • Elders interviewed found they were provided with a challenge of helping youth change their lives. The Elders also felt a special empathy that appears to derive from the marginal status shared by elders and youth in society.

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.