Playgroup WA’s First Intergenerational Playgroup Celebrates 15 Years

MEDIA STATEMENT
Thursday 14 November 2019

Playgroup WA’s First Intergenerational Playgroup celebrates 15 Years

Playgroup WA and Alzheimer’s WA are celebrating the 15th anniversary of the Mary Chester Intergenerational Playgroup in Shenton Park.

On Thursday morning 14 November, Minister for Seniors and Ageing Mick Murray attended the celebration event at Mary Chester House, where local families were welcomed to come along to the aged care respite centre and enjoy fun activities, new toys and face painting.

Proudly leading the way, WA is the only state in Australia that provides State Government funding for intergenerational playgroups. Playgroup WA has been funded by the State Government to carry out this work for 15 years.

Minister Murray commended Playgroup WA and Alzheimer’s WA for their pioneering work in developing the intergenerational playgroup concept.

Minister Murray said, “Playgroup WA and Alzheimer’s WA’s work in this space paved the way for what is now being recognised throughout the country and the world as a positive way to connect young and old, share knowledge and ultimately create stronger communities. Through their early work with the Gallop Government back in 2003, these organisations have shown just how much younger and older people can learn from each other. They were ahead of their time in developing this program and the State Government is pleased to continue to support this initiative.”

Playgroup WA CEO David Zarb said, “This all began in 2003 when Playgroup WA was approached by the then WA Government and subsequently received a government grant to establish intergenerational playgroups at aged care facilities in Western Australia. Alzheimer’s WA’s Mary Chester House was chosen as one of these pioneer intergenerational playgroups, commencing in 2004, and continues to hold weekly sessions, 15 years on. The WA government remains the only State Government to fund Intergenerational playgroups and we have seen the benefits with many aged care and seniors organisations actively participating in intergenerational activities over an extended number of years.”

As seen on the recent ABC documentary, Old People’s Home for 4 Year Olds, there are many benefits for all involved when children and older people come together.

The Mary Chester Intergenerational Playgroup runs a little differently to the TV show. Parents come along with their child, aged 0 to 5 years, to weekly playgroup sessions. The group is small and relaxed, allowing for the creation of bonds of friendship and support, which is of real value to families and seniors alike. The children interact with the centre’s clients through a range of activities such as story-telling, games, sing-a-longs and gardening.

Alzheimer’s WA Acting CEO, Danielle Wrench said, “The Intergenerational Playgroup at Mary Chester House continues to provide an exceptional opportunity to create meaningful connections and support networks with families of all ages. They provide a safe and enabling environment that helps break down feelings of isolation often associated with dementia and allows opportunities for reminiscing of years gone by. Seeing the Intergenerational Playgroups flourish over the past 15 years further reinforces their importance and benefit to both the community and those living with dementia.”

The children and their families benefit as well. “It’s an opportunity to introduce older people into the lives of young families who may otherwise have little interaction with seniors,” said Mr Zarb. “Friendships are developed, and it builds a sense of acceptance of difference, as well as responsibility for others in the community.”

About Intergenerational Playgroups

Intergenerational Playgroups provide seniors, young children and their parents and care givers with the opportunity to interact, be stimulated and have fun through play. These types of playgroups link members of the community who may not normally interact. Children interact and learn to respect and value seniors. Seniors interact with and value the children. For more information, visit: https://playgroupwa.com.au/funded-programs/intergenerational-activities-service/

About Playgroup WA

Playgroup WA was established in 1972 and consists of two offices, in North Perth and Bunbury. Currently more than 9,000 families enjoy the benefits of playgroup in sessions operating from Esperance to Kununurra, from Leonora to Lancelin and throughout the Perth metropolitan area. Playgroup WA has more than 400 member playgroups. For more information, visit: https://playgroupwa.com.au/

About Alzheimer’s WA’s Mary Chester House

Alzheimer’s WA offers respite services at their houses including Mary Chester in Shenton Park, as well as houses in Albany and Mandurah. In addition to this, they offer services in the community for people living with dementia. Carers can relax in the knowledge that their loved ones are in a safe and supportive environment that caters to their individual needs.

The Mary Chester Intergenerational Playgroup takes place weekly and is part of Alzheimer’s WA’s Eden Alternative™ care philosophy which involves introducing animals, plants and children into support facilities to combat loneliness, helplessness and boredom.