A Balbriggan school has just completed a pilot programme with a nearby nursing home aimed at developing empathy and understanding in the children regarding the elderly.

The project between Balbriggan Educate Together National School and Gormanston Wood Nursing Home was a great success.

The Student Council, comprising children aged between 6 and 12, was selected to become involved in the programme.

Two children were assigned to each elderly person, one older with one younger.

Teacher Elaine Moore said: ‘We got information on both the children’s and adults interests and hobbies so we could link the group adequately. For example we linked two children who played musical instruments with a man who also played an instrument and we linked two children who attended dance classes with a former dancer. This meant that the group instantly hit it off and had a common ground of interest.’

The school visited Gormanston Wood on six occasions. In the visits they played board games, listened to music, did art activities, did a famous face memory quiz, played party games and most of all just had a good old chat and catch up.

‘Over the weeks both the children and their new friend kindled a friendship. They looked forward to the visits,’ Elaine explained

‘The residents were also invited to the school for the winter concert as our VIPs and had a lovely day out. We hope that the residents will return for our school open day on May 4th in which the school showcase its teaching and learning throughout the school.

‘The scheme was very successful from both ends, the children learned so much and also the residents had a lease of life about them and looked forward to seeing the children.

‘The is an initiative that we would like to see happening each year as we feel it is a fantastic way for the children to get involved in the community, whilst developing their life skills and most importantly developing friendships and preventing loneliness.’

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