Falkirk children bring ‘immeasurable’ Christmas joy to the elderly

A group of nursery-aged children have been bringing festive joy to elderly service users of ION Enablement Centre in Maddiston.

The youngsters have been meeting with day care users for an hour once a week as part of a six-week pilot project in collaboration with One Parent Families Scotland (OPFS) which has a family centre in Maddiston.

Maddiston youngsters and elderly service users from ION Enablement Centre teach each other songs and dances

Maddiston youngsters and elderly service users from ION Enablement Centre teach each other songs and dances

Service manager Jamie Brown explained the inspiration behind the initiative was the successful Channel 4 show ‘Old People’s Home for Four Year Olds which features a nursery where classmates’ ages ranged from three to 102.

“I thought this was a fantastic idea seeing how the young and old could learn from each other. The main aims of the project were to establish community links and also get our day care users more active and encourage them to integrate more.

“Our oldest service user is aged 99 and the youngest child to take part was just two and it was fantastic and so interesting too to see how well they all interacted.

“It was a real mood-lift for everyone and we noticed that even some of our less active residents were keen to stand up and get involved with the children and were so visibly happy to see them each week.

A little boy shares a story with an elderly gentleman

A little boy shares a story with an elderly gentleman

“We noticed too that some residents with dementia who are usually quite withdrawn became much more communicative, which was lovely to see.

“They sang songs together like Jingle Bells and taught each other dances like Superman and Baby Shark.

“The joy the children brought was immeasurable which was extremely touching to watch and the project was such a huge success that we have already decided to do it again next year.”

Carlole Wilcox, manager at the OPFS family centre in Maddiston, added: “All of the children who took part are aged between two and three and some of them don’t have grandparents so it was very special for them to spend time with older people in this way.

Youngsters teach elderly service users how to dance

Youngsters teach elderly service users how to dance

“One child was talking to an elderly gentleman and told him his favourite programme was Thomas the Tank Engine and the man responded that he used to work as a train driver. This is just one example of how the children benefited both socially and developmentally.

“The children also enjoyed ringing their jingle bells while singing songs with the ladies and gentlemen they met.”