Award winning reading group benefits students and residents

21 December 2018

An inter-generational program has brought joy to young and old in Northampton and won St Mary’s School well-deserved recognition. 

The school was recently presented with the 2018 Western Australia Country Health Service Midwest Consumer Contribution Award for a joint consumer engagement initiative with the Northampton Health Service. 

Every Monday for the past two years, students from Years 1 to 6 have visited the Northampton residential aged care unit, a different group each week, calling themselves the Brookview Bookworms. Throughout 2018, all 49 students at the school visited the residents. 

Having helped with Meals on Wheels and the Never Too Old group previously, Nurse Manager Di Smith pitched the idea of reading sessions to Principal Melissa Marquis. With the backing of school staff and support of parents and community members the Brookview Bookworms were born. 

Ms Marquis said the initiative had positively impacted the lives of both students and aged care residents. 

“The social interaction has merit for both parties,” she said. “The joy on the faces of the residents cannot be quantified.” 

Ms Marquis said the reading group gave students the opportunity to practice oral reading in a one-on-one situation to a very attentive audience, as well as show the Fruit of the Spirit (love, joy, gentleness, patience and kindness) through their thoughts, words and actions.

Of the many benefits for the residents, the program has increased engagement with the community outside of the aged care facility and family networks. It has also given back purpose and meaning to some residents who, due to their age and health, may have be limited in their daily lives. 

One lady assists a young boy with sounding out his words. Despite having dementia, she can tell him what the word is when he struggles, points out the word and looks to her for assistance. 

Four students  also come to the hospital kitchen fortnightly with their teacher to collect meals and deliver them to community members in their homes.

Ms Marquis said the award was important to the school and students as it reflected the day-to-day practice of their motto For God and Country.

“Participation in Brookview Bookworms and Meals on Wheels is one small way we can give back to the community helping those who are most in need,” she said.

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