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HEARTWARMING PARTNERSHIP BRIDGES GENERATIONS 

Through an endeavour aimed at fostering connections across generations, Edge Early Learning, one of Queensland’s leading early learning groups, has joined hands with Comlink Australia to introduce the heartwarming intergenerational program, Paper Planes.

Hosted within three of its Brisbane centres in Strathpine, Zillmere and North Harbour, Edge houses the transformative experience that aims to enrich the lives of Senior Citizens through meaningful interactions and connections with young children.

Developed by Comlink Australia, the Paper Planes program represents a significant shift in community engagement, where the coming together of individuals at distinct ends of the age spectrum in a nurturing environment to share wisdom and experiences, produces an abundance of joy and enrichment for participants.

Participants include kindergarten children from the selected Edge Early Learning centres and seniors aged 65-years and above (with a lower age threshold of 55-years plus for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander individuals). 

Edge Early Learning CEO, Annie Bryce said, “For children, the benefits from this program have been equally as significant to those of seniors, with interactions helping them to develop essential social skills, emotional intelligence, and communication abilities.”

“Through conversations with older generations, children can learn to articulate their thoughts effectively and develop a broader vocabulary, fostering a strong sense of self-worth and enhancing communication skills. Children may also benefit from the wisdom and experiences shared by the older generation.”

The program kicked off in June 2023 and saw major success, with the North Primary Health Network providing additional funding to continue with the program in 2024.

Comlink surveyed the older participants pre-program, and the results showed that 60% felt they lacked companionship often. When they surveyed the participants again after 6 months of the program running that had reduced to 20%, which is a significant improvement.

A report by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) found around 1 in 4 older Australians experience social isolation or loneliness. 

Studies found that intergenerational programs, particularly those involving young children and older adults, offer benefits such as fostering mutual understanding, empathy, and respect between generations, while also promoting cognitive, social, and emotional development for both age groups. 

Programs like Paper Plans can combat social isolation among older adults and enhance social skills and attitudes towards aging in children.

Emeritus Professor, Anneke Fitzgerald from the Australian Institute for Intergenerational Practice said “When you have older people involved in an intergenerational program with young children, the wonderful thing is that it gives them a sense of purpose and belonging. There is nothing more motivating than thinking, my reason for getting up and going out today, is because it is my turn to read to the children.”   

For seniors, participation in such programs has been associated with improvements in physical health, functional ability, and mental wellbeing. These interactions reduce depression, enhance self-worth, and provide positive mental stimulation.

Thanks to the program, together both age groups embark on a journey of shared experiences and collaborative activities, forging bonds that transcend age barriers.

“We’re so thrilled to hold this partnership with Comlink that is both heartwarming and rewarding, reflecting our shared commitment to community enrichment and lifelong learning,” said Annie.

“I would really love to see the Paper Planes Program as an embedded practice into aged care. I see Comlink Australia partnering with Edge Early Learning as a driving force in the intergenerational play space,” said Leah Randle, Comlink Regional Manager.

For more information about Edge Early Learning and Comlink Australia’s Paper Planes program, visit: https://www.comlinkaustralia.com.au/social-support/

Seniors interested in joining the program can register their interest by contacting Comlink Australia at (07) 3485 0900 or via email at intergen@comlinkaustralia.com.au.

To find out more about Edge Early Learning, visit their website: www.edgeearlylearning.com.au  

MORE ABOUT AIIP & GLOBAL INTERGENERATIONAL WEEK 

The Australian Institute for Intergenerational Practice (AIIP) is a not-for-profit organisation dedicated to advancing evidence-based intergenerational practices in Australia. AIIP is the proud Country Lead for Australia for Global Intergenerational Week 2024, which is an annual celebration of uniting generations across the world. A wide variety of local, National, and international events are happening in April to raise awareness about intergenerational practice and the benefits to older and younger generations and society more broadly.

For more information, visit https://aiip.net.au/

MORE ABOUT EDGE EARLY LEARNING

Edge Early Learning is one of Australia’s leading early learning groups with over 59 centres across Queensland, South Australia and the ACT. Known for commitment to quality care and education, Edge Early Learning’s ethos is to inspire creativity, curiosity, and instil a lifelong love for learning.

Backed by a team of passionate and qualified educators, Edge Early Learning’s educational programs follow an inquiry-based approach, supporting and enhancing learning milestones and journeys across all areas of development through its four pillars, education, wellbeing, relationships, and sustainability.

Utilising the Queensland Kindergarten Learning Guidelines and the Early Years Learning Framework to guide their pedagogy and practice, Edge’s Early Learning programs include the areas of identity, connectedness, wellbeing, active learning, and communication.

All state-of-the-art centres feature modern indoor learning spaces and resources with age-specific rooms catering to nursery, toddler and kindergarten. Outdoor play areas feature water misters, bike tracks, sand pits, vegetable gardens, space to run, and quiet areas to relax.

In addition to quality early education, Edge is leading the way by offering mindfulness activities such as yoga and incorporating sustainable practices such as utilising bamboo nappies and wipes, sunscreen, and environmentally friendly cleaning products. As well as providing all meals which are prepared on-site daily, and cater to all dietary requirements, all included in the daily fee.

With opening hours from 6.00m to 6.30pm from Monday to Friday, Edge Early Learning offers extended operation times to best suit parents and carers and enables them to get the most out of the allocated subsided hours per fortnight. 

Contact: emily@m10.com.au