Every Friday on Bribie Island, three- to five-year-old children hold aged care residents’ hands, sing and dance with them, and visit those who are unable to leave their rooms.
The C&K Bribie Island Community Kindergarten (BICK) children also have an adventure through the bush or to the beach every Wednesday with Indigenous elder Uncle Ron.
The children explore the local area and stare in wonder at animals and plants, as Uncle Ron and their teacher, and other adult helpers, explain the significance of what they are looking at, and of the ecosystem around them.
These touching connections have been forged by BICK teacher Narelle Dawson, who is a finalist in the inaugural Queensland College of Teachers (QCT) Outstanding Contribution to School Community Award.
Mrs Dawson said the weekly visits to Bribie Island Aged Care Service were set up to provide their children, some of whom did not have a lot of contact with their grandparents, with an opportunity to create connections with elderly people and to learn from them. The result has been heart-warming and powerful.
“No two days are the same, but we start in one area and normally the children will sit down, and they’ve got some songs they will do, and there is a lady who is 100 years who comes and plays on the piano for them,” Mrs Dawson said.
“From there we walk around to a couple of the wings and say hello to the residents who don’t come out of their rooms, and from there we go into the dementia ward and we do some music and dance,” she said.
“They hold their (residents’) hands and there are lots of hugs,” Mrs Dawson said. She said some of the residents didn’t get to see their great-grandchildren often, and some asked to be woken up for the visits, with the joy showing on their faces every time the children arrived.
“It is very powerful, honestly, it is very powerful,” she said.
Just as powerful are the connections students are building with the environment and the tremendous learning that is taking place as a result. Mrs Dawson and BICK staff have built a strong bond with Indigenous elder Uncle Ron, who accompanies the children on their bush and beach walks every Wednesday and also volunteers at the centre during the week.
“When we go, there is rarely an agenda – the children get to immerse themselves in the space, explore, investigate, create and engage in the experience,” Mrs Dawson said.
Congratulations Narelle on being named a finalist.