In a period of much upheaval, it has been a challenge for students and teachers to find a way to make sense of the circumstances we find ourselves in. Nayland English teacher Amanda Wharton decided to harness the situation by getting her class to reach out to those in isolation at the Flaxmore Lifecare Home.
Ms. Wharton got her Year Nine class to write letters to the elderly residents as a way of making them feel less alone at a time when they are cut off from many of their loved ones. She launched the project to encourage students to think how this crisis will be affecting others in the community.
“The main intention for this activity was to encourage students to consider the impact of Covid-19 and the lockdown on our elderly community. While most of us would be in lockdown with our families, folks in rest homes would not be able to be visited by their loved ones which would be very difficult for many,” Ms. Wharton said.
“We thought they would enjoy hearing that the students of Nayland College care about them and want to support them through this tough time. In doing this, students were able to practice writing to an unknown audience (or a general older audience) as well as how to format and structure a friendly letter.”
Ms Wharton wanted to build a connection between the generations, at a time when that connection could seem quite tenuous, as families are separated due to self-isolation rules.
“We all know that the elderly community is the most vulnerable in this pandemic. Sometimes there can be a disconnect from older and newer generations. We wanted to make sure that our elderly community knew that we are here for them. We are staying home to keep them safe and we are thinking of them a lot.”
“It is my hope that they (the students) have more of an understanding of empathy. This wasn’t just a task to complete in English. It was a nice thing to do. Many students may not have considered the implication of the lockdown outside of their own bubble, but hopefully this showed them why we are staying home – so that the elderly community is safe and will soon be able to see their loved ones again.”
Flaxmore manager Stephanie Murch said that the residents were overjoyed to know that they “they hadn’t been forgotten.”
“(It meant a lot) that strangers took the time to write and tell their story, some of which made them laugh. Seeing pictures of the (student’s) pets started up a conversation about their own pets,” Ms. Murch said.
In fact, the residents were so taken that the students had written to them, they decided to write a letter back to the students.
Below you can see 2 samples of the letters the students wrote. They were written by Alice Neiman and Levi Tijsen. You can also see the letter the residents wrote back to our students.
By Duncan McKinlay