Pen pal scheme recognised in parliament

A teacher from Woy Woy South Public School has been recognised in NSW Parliament for her creation of a ‘pen pal’ system with local aged care provider, HammondCare Woy Woy.

Rebecca Eastgate’s ‘Notes to Nursing Homes’ initiative allows students to swap pictures, stories and jokes with the residents of the nursing home.

“The initiative started in lockdown as we were thinking about loneliness and how our school community could help those who feel disconnected to their families,” Eastgate said.

“We have collected 80 letters – some of them pictures from our Kindergarten students – and have taken them down to HammondCare with
some Freddo frogs for residents to enjoy.

“There are some residents who are writing back … they’re really excited, apparently it has brought them lots of happiness and joy.

“It has been really well received by students; they’ve loved it … they’ve been writing some heartfelt letters, checking on residents’ mental health and checking how they can respectfully talk to them.”

Eastgate said the local school will arrange a Zoom session soon for students to talk with the residents, before meeting up in-person next year.

Member for Gosford, Liesl Tesch, shared news of the scheme with her parliamentary colleagues on November 12.

“This is a heart-warming initiative, especially at such a challenging time during COVID-19 and all the restrictions its imposed upon our wider community,” Tesch said.

“It is so important that our youngsters understand …positive relationships with elderly residents and seniors across our community.

“There is a wealth of knowledge and stories just waiting for someone to listen [and] I know that those younger generations have lots of energy and stories of their own to share.

“I look forward to this initiative continuing for many years to come.

“Well done Woy Woy South Public School and the whole team at HammondCare for organising such a community rich program … keep it going!”

Maisy Rae

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