Lifestyle

Silver warriors sharing their knowledge with youth in Shepparton

By Liz Mellino

Students at Wanganui Park Secondary College in Shepparton have shown their support for a pilot program aimed at addressing social isolation in senior citizens.

‘I Wish I’d Asked’ was successfully funded in October through the Victorian Government’s Pick My Project initiative, designed to reduce the high levels of loneliness and depression experienced among seniors and youth.

The pilot program being conducted in Shepparton will involve young people engaging with senior citizens to learn about their lives and hear their stories.

These conversations will be recorded and made available online as an oral history of ordinary Australians in our community.

To aid these conversations, the program acquired a caravan which will be used as a travelling studio to collect interviews and conversations at major events during the Shepparton Festival in March next year.

Wanganui Park Secondary College students were asked to create an image which will be printed on the outside of the ‘I Wish I’d Asked’ Prestige Jayco Story Van, with Year 9 students working to develop a unique design.

The final design features two senior citizens becoming younger after travelling through a portal-like object, with students taking photos yesterday which will be used in their final design.

‘‘The students came up with terrific ideas and the people from ‘I Wish I’d Asked’ were really happy and impressed with the concepts,’’ college teacher Kerry Short said.

‘‘The image will show an older woman being pulled through a portal and as she’s coming through she’s becoming younger.’’

‘I Wish I’d Asked’ co-founders Eva Gruen and Danny Finley said they wanted an image that incorporated their inter-generational program and highlighted the relationship between youth and senior community members.

They said the program would continue year-round and the Shepparton pilot program would become an example for other communities to follow and implement.

‘‘‘I Wish I’d Asked’ will benefit the community by easing the emotional, physical and financial burden of loneliness ... by forming meaningful relationships, participants will feel happier, more secure, content and confident,’’ Mr Finley said.

‘‘The young will practise the lost art of conversation as they engage with the seniors on topics of mutual interest.

‘‘These stories from our silver warriors will serve to inform our young of the rich history which abounds in our communities,’’ he said.