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Fun and friendship for young and old in a new project at Banbury and Reading.

Fun and friendship were on the menu for young children and elderly care home residents taking part in ground-breaking activity at Banbury and Bicester College. Students and staff at the college have been working on an exciting new project, inspired by the Channel 4 TV programme “Old People’s Home for 4 Year Olds”.  
The successful TV show explored the health and wellbeing benefits that both pre-schoolers and the older generation can benefit from by spending time together.  The programme also highlighted what can be gained when different generations mix, share and learn together.   
To help them with this ambitious project, named ‘The Gift’, early years and health and social care students and staff at the college, joined together with local care homes and nurseries, with the first successful session, running on Friday 26 January at the Banbury campus.
Helen Collins, Nursery Manager at Hobby Horse Children’s Centre, said: “The children and staff are very excited to be part of this wonderful initiative bringing together children from the nursery, students from Banbury and Bicester College and Green Pastures Christian Nursing Home. 
“The students at the college organised a variety of fun activities for the residents and children which they all thoroughly enjoyed.  The children all had fun and became more confident as the session progressed. 
“One of the children said ‘I’ve made a new friend’ and another child didn’t want to leave. It was lovely to see the different generations interacting and watching the faces light up on both the children and the residents. 
“We are really looking forward to seeing our new friends at the next session and being able to develop this project further in the future.” 
Salwa Boon, Director of Curriculum Design and Delivery at Activate Learning, said: “We are pleased to have successfully launch the first session of our project 'The Gift'.  The project is aimed at bringing two generations together and create opportunities for the elderly and children to enhance each other's life experiences. Older and younger generations are becoming increasingly disconnected due to living arrangements or social changes. 
“We are very proud of our health and social care and early years learners who created great activities that met the needs of both generations”
Finn Wyatt, a Health and Social Care student from the Banbury campus said: “It’s been a great opportunity to interact with both age groups and a new way to learn”.  He was further praised by the teaching team: “Finn was particularly excellent in getting everything ready and leading in all activities. A real credit to the team at Banbury”

Salwa Boon, concludes: “We are hoping that these sessions will allow children and older people get to know each other, have fun and develop trust and friendship. We are grateful to St.Luke's Care Home, Berkeley Gardens Nursery and WigWam Day Nursery for agreeing to be partners on this project.

“The benefits of this project are numerous for all parties involved. For the nursery children, these are in line with the EYFS (Early Years Foundation Stage) and will build on their personal, social and emotional development, including developing a positive sense of themselves and others, whilst forming respectful social skills. 

“For the residents of the care homes, benefits can include greater emotional well-being which can lead to improved physical health and better cognitive performance.

“And special thanks to Fiona Taylor, our Work Placement Coordinator, for her commitment and dedication to this project.”

The project is also running at Reading College, part of education group Activate Learning, along with Banbury and Bicester College.