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Biographies brings generations together

Schools

Rostrevor College secondary students are capturing the life stories of aged care residents through a unique program that is preserving personal histories and bringing generations closer together.

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The Write of Passage – My Memoirs program paired Allity Walkerville Aged Care residents with Year 10 students from Rostrevor.

The students conducted weekly interviews throughout August and September and will present each resident with a book containing their memoirs in Term 4.

Rostrevor College principal Brian Schumacher said it was incredibly valuable for the students to gain an insight into the lives of older people and was a great opportunity to bring English studies “to life”.

“Write of Passage has enabled these young men to make a meaningful and long-lasting contribution to the community and to give something back to previous generations,” Mr Schumacher said.

Walkerville Aged Care’s Lifestyle manager, Judith Tanti, said the contact between the generations had great benefits for young and old.

“For residents, engaging with young people leads to a better frame of mind and better health,” she said.

“For the students, they are gaining an appreciation for a world that is wider than their own and are making genuine friendships.”

Rostrevor College student Matthew Beltrame, 16, said getting to know 77-year-old Barbara Colbert had opened his eyes to a generation affected by war and a “tougher way of life”.

“It was really surprising, just hearing what she did and how that differs to what I do – how she lived, compared to how I live,” he said.

The elderly residents were also given an insight into the lives of their young biographers with a personalised tour of Rostrevor College last month and afternoon tea served by the young men.

On October 31, the Rostrevor students visited Walkerville Aged Care and read an extract from the memoirs to each resident before presenting them with a book in front of family and friends.

Jean Wright, 88, said it was lovely to have the chance to reflect on her past and share her life stories with 16-year-old Nicholas Reu.

“He is a wonderful young man and it’s young men like this that I think are the future of our country and I feel better knowing that,”
Mrs Wright said.

Nicholas said he and Jean had formed a very warm bond that would endure beyond the 10-week program.

“Jean lived though World War II and I’m learning about it now in school, but I think you get a much better insight hearing about it first-hand,” Nicholas said.

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