The Penpals Program
Intergenerational Penpals launched in November 2020 and is ongoing. 10 pairs of community based older adults and pre-school children were paired to engage in monthly letter exchange. Each letter exchange revolved around various "get to know each other" themes. As part of their pre-school program and with help of early childhood educators, the children engaged in an arts and crafts, drawing or painting to depict their thoughts, feelings and questions for their older penpals. Older adults were given a letter writing starter pack which consisted of envelopes, stamps and craft supplies, which they used in their responses. Feedback on participant experiences and perspectives of the program will be sought at the end of the program.
The INTEGRITY Trial
We are seeking to secure funding to undertake the INTEGRITY TRIAL (INTErGeneRational practice in the communITY trial). It will seek to bring pre-school children and older adults together in community settings with the aim of promoting healthy ageing, child development and broader community well-being. This trial will scientifically evaluate the efficacy of a 10-week intergenerational program across 20 sites in Australia and quantify social, cognitive, physical benefits to older adults' and socioemotional and linguistic impacts on children. It will also provide critical insight into the wide-scale applicability and pragmatics of the possibility of a national roll-out of programs like these.
There is no more critical time to invest in this work. With the aged care sector and public health and education budgets stretched, dementia impacting more and more families and COVID-19 creating more social isolation, securing the resources to deliver this work will ensure we find new ways to improve wellbeing across Australian society.