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Generations Active Together

Bringing together local secondary schools and care home residents in Stirling.

Led by Active Stirling, “Generations Active Together” [GAT] is an inter-generational project produced in partnership with Generations Working Together, Stirling Council and supported by the GOALD project run by the University of Stirling. The GAT programme brings together senior sports leaders from local secondary schools with care home residents in their community. The aim of the programme is to try and break down barriers between generations and improve the perception of teenagers and older adults.

The programme has been so successful that MSP Christina McKelvie, Minister for Equalities and Older People presented the programme with the “Highly Commended” award at the Generations Working Together annual conference this March.

Active Stirling’s Laura Taylor said; “Our GAT programme has been so rewarding for both parties involved. Our aim is to breakdown barriers and perceptions of teenagers and older adults - and the young people have also found it fun and rewarding to work in a completely new environment whilst continuing to build on their leadership skills and relationships with the residents.”

Generations Active Together

The project was initially launched in 2017 as an Active Stirling pilot in two rural schools, Balfron High and Dunblane High. Within Dunblane, the project worked with sport leaders in 5th and 6th year to provide physical activities suitable for those in a local care home. However, in Balfron it was a bit different. There wasn’t a suitable care home to work in partnership with, so the pupils were tasked with providing a similar service in the local community instead.

Since then, the project has grown to have had 4 schools involved last year, St Modan’s High, Stirling High, Wallace High and Dunblane High. 

Last year, 65 students took part across the schools involved – getting a classroom-based presentations on what a care home setting is truly about and a total of 58 residents ages from 70-95 years from 4 local care homes in Stirling.    The presentations also includes potential careers in the care home setting as well as Dementia Friends Training delivered by  Alzheimer Scotland.

Impact on students

At the start of each academic year, pupils receive training within a school environment and learn about the importance of physical activity in older adults and have discussions about tackling ageism and stereotypes of older adults. The pupils also receive training on suitable activities to help residents stay active. They then work together in groups to plan an exercise session, which they then deliver to the residents in a care home. During their visit to the care home, pupils also get the chance to talk to the residents which helps both groups to maintain and develop social skills.

These sessions appear to have a big impact on the students. In Wallace High, the participants were all male, Active Stirling’s Laura Taylor said; “As part of this project we talk about stereotypes, and how to avoid judging. However, here, I put my hands up, I thought these boys were never going to get involved with this. Honestly, I was blown away by their enthusiasm. They were fantastic.”

“What was more surprising was that one of the pupils from another school, was even quite impacted by the fact they wouldn’t see the residents again. The boy been struggling in school, having issues. Now he was requesting information about volunteering opportunities, incredible.”

Reacting to COVID-19

Despite the success, the programme hasn’t been without it’s challenges. In 2020, when COVID-19 was an issue, the restrictions placed on both schools and care homes made it significantly more difficult to bring these two groups of people together. However, Active Stirling were able to find a way to keep the project running!

In 2021, GAT was switched to a digital programme, with recorded sessions for older adults produced by the students and then sent digitally to the care homes – to be projected for the residents to complete together at their own convenience. Despite the switch, this method of interaction was not a long term solution for the project and when possible, the project reverted back to in-person sessions. Laura said;

“A lot of what is positive about this project is reactionary. You really have to be able to read the room and know your audience. Sometimes you need to adapt the programme around what the older residents can and cannot do – in the recordings, we weren’t able to do that.”

Find out more

- About Active Stirling

- About Active Schools on Sport First

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