‘Young at Heart’ is a sub-brand of Derbyshire Toy Libraries, all about intergenerational play. And evolved from a Facebook conversation amongst parents. Inspired by programmes such as Channel 4’s ‘Old People’s Home for 4-Year-Olds’, a number of parents decided they would like something similar to happen here in Belper. With the help of Derbyshire Toy Libraries and the start in each home, we have now had weekly play sessions in Spencer Grove, Holbrook Hall and Springwood House; and there are other homes which would like to open their doors to young families too.
It is, after all, an arrangement which mutually benefits all involved. Parents who may be living far from family, and lack the support networks that others have can find comfort in chatting with an older friend who has already been there and done it all. Knowledge and skills can be shared over a cuppa. They can enjoy a joke, take on the world and sometimes fundamentally disagree with each other! But put age to one side, and their experience of the world is enriched.
The young children who come to sessions foster new relationships and learn that friendship can bridge age groups – they don’t only have to spend time with children their own age. They can enjoy the slower nurture and smiles of an old friend by exploring a game or a book together. The old people who attend the play sessions can benefit from the hustle and bustle of young energy, and many enjoy a cuddle too. Many residents have commented over the course of the year that spending time with the children takes them back to the days of raising their own children, and they look forward to the group returning.
‘Young at Heart’ is Derbyshire Toy Libraries’ pioneering intergenerational play project, evolving from conversations amongst parents who were inspired by programmes such as Channel 4’s ‘Old People’s Home for 4-Year-Olds’; they decided they would like something similar to happen in Belper. The sessions are run in a typical playgroup format, and they allow children to foster new relationships and learn that friendship can form between people of different ages. They can enjoy the slower nurture and smiles of an old friend by exploring a game or a book together. The elders who attend the play sessions can benefit from the hustle and bustle of young energy.
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