Pupils teach Wrexham care home residents how to sing using sign language

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Pupils from a Wrexham school are teaching care home residents how to sing using sign language.

The youngsters from St Christopher’s School are regular visitors to Pendine Park’s Hillbury care home as part of a project to bridge the generation gap.

Also, on the agenda during the weekly intergenerational sessions are craft work and quizzes.

According to teacher Linda Jones, it was important for the pupils from Wales’ largest special school to learn life skills from the older generation.

She said: “It’s a sign of the times really. I think we now understand the importance of intergenerational contract and understanding. It’s something our students really enjoy and they really do benefit from mixing and chatting with older people.

“It improves their social and communication skills in situations that are new to them. However, it’s a two way street and the benefit to the residents is clear to see.

“Teaching life skills is something that is high up on our school agenda and these visits allow us an opportunity to teach those skills outside of the school environment.”

She added: “We allow the students and residents to choose the activities we do on each visit. Sometimes we undertake craft projects or hold a quiz while on other occasions the students enjoy teaching residents sign language.

“We have a sign language choir in school called Sign of the Times and students are very enthusiastic in their efforts to teach residents how to join in.

Hillbury’s lead enrichment co-ordinator Gerry Humphries says it’s clear the weekly visits by students of St Christopher’s Special School is something residents really enjoy and look forward to.

She said: “The joy on the faces of residents when the students come in is clear to see.

“Residents love to talk and it seems the students really enjoy hearing from the residents and learning something about their lives and experiences.

“We can see how both students and residents’ benefit.  Our residents particularly enjoy watching and joining in with the sign language songs the students have been teaching them.

“It’s a joy to see the different generations working together and enjoying each other’s company.”

Nadia Rowley, 16, who wants to work in a hair and beauty salon, said: “It’s really good. I like chatting to the older people. They help me with my confidence.

“I like doing craft lessons with residents and singing our sign language songs. All the residents are nice and we have good fun together.”

There was a similar message from Charlotte Gaskill, 18, who also wants to work in animal care.

She said: “I just like talking to the older people and having fun together.

“Coming here helps me build my confidence. I always like to hear the older people talk about when they were young and some of the things they did.”

Hillbury resident Gwen Davies Barrett, 90, said: “It’s great seeing young people coming in to see us. They are so well behaved and polite. I like hearing about the things they are up to. It’s very different nowadays to when I was young.

“I like hearing their songs and how they do the signs that go with the words, it’s lovely. We are going to learn some Christmas songs together.”

Fellow resident Heather Davies, 83, added: “I love seeing the children. They are all beautiful, very polite and so well behaved. It’s just lovely to talk to them and hear what they are up to.”

Equally delighted was Nancy Povey, 90, who said: “I really like it when we see the young people. It’s just nice to chat and hear all about their school. They are so nice and thoughtful, it’s very special.”

Hillbury manager Cindy Clutton: “Bringing the generations together in this way is a real joy for everybody concerned.”