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Connection for the ages

Posted: 2pm 30 Sep 2020

While many children do not know what a pen pal is, there’s a Year 6 class at St Benedict’s College which has embraced the concept and their much older pals.

Pupils in Natalie Devine’s class started writing letters to residents at Seasons Aged Care Mango Hill in August, in a bid to help them feel less isolated during the COVID-19 shutdown.

It followed a class discussion at the end of term two, when they spoke about older people and how they must have been feeling at that time.

“I put the question out there – how can we make a difference? They thought they could send something to them,” Mrs Devine said.

It started with one letter

So, they wrote letters and enclosed activity packs which were hand-delivered by one of the pupils’ mothers who worked at Seasons Aged Care Mango Hill.

The replies were delivered to the school about a week later and at that point the children found out who their pen pal was. They replied to that person on September 1, writing a more personal letter and including some treats for them to enjoy.

“I think they’re hoping they can make a difference. Even the smallest of gestures can make someone’s day, week or life,” Mrs Devine said.

Timely connection

Seasons Aged Care Mango Hill lifestyle co-ordinator Judy Waterworth said residents had been involved in similar pen pal programs before, but this one was timely given the lockdown of aged care facilities.

“They’re really enjoying it and they’re really enjoying communication with the older children,” Ms Waterworth said.

“It lifts their spirits. They get a real kick out of it … they’re all smiling and giggling and it’s lovely.”

Mrs Devine said the activity had taught the children that they could help make the world a better place.

It has also been an authentic way for the children to practise their writing, without even realising it. For most, if not all, it has been their first experience of sending and receiving a hand-written letter.

“There’s been lots of buzz and enthusiasm,” Mrs Devine said

“I’m really hoping they can meet one day when restrictions have eased.”

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