Primary school kids buddy up with oldies

1 - Primary school kids buddy up with oldiesAs part of the 2014 Victorian Seniors Festival, The Alannah & Madeline Foundation is recognising an innovative Victorian primary school which has ‘buddied up’ with local aged care residents to protect kids from bullying.

The “oldies” wellbeing program at St Charles Borromeo Primary School in Templestowe was initiated by the children, in partnership with local retirement village Roseville, and has surprised teachers and academics with its success in protecting some of the most vulnerable students from bullying.

Grade 5 students are paired with an ‘oldie buddy’ and have regular visits to Roseville, where they share stories and skills, such as using an iPad and meditation. The ‘oldies’ share personal histories and photos, which often link to the curriculum, and get involved in the classroom.

St Charles Borromeo Student wellbeing leader, Sue Cahill, says students have gained confidence and feel valued and respected – things that the experts know can help prevent bullying and being bullied.

“The kids feel a huge responsibility for their buddy and it has often been the kids who don’t excel in other areas that have been the ones who have stepped up and absolutely shone in their relationship,” Ms Cahill said.

“The children who are isolated, or have behavioural issues never put a foot out of place when they are with their oldie, who often hasn’t had a visitor for weeks and weeks,” she said.

The children prepare for the program in grade 4 and learn strategies, such as how to start a conversation, overcoming stumbling blocks and how to deal with loss and grief. It is hoped the program will be rolled-out to schools across the country as an extension of the Better Buddies framework of The Alannah & Madeline Foundation.

The Foundation’s Better Buddies Manager Maree Stanley says the students report the relationship with their oldie buddy is one of the most important parts of their school life.

“The respect, empathy, care and responsibility the students show their oldie buddies set up a strong foundation for all relationships the students have. These values, when put into action, will prevent bullying behaviours,” Ms Stanley said.

“We hope to see more schools following the lead of St Charles Borromeo by extending their buddy program beyond the schoolyard and into the community.”

This wonderful initiative was featured on Channel 7 news (7/10/14) - watch it here. 

Better Buddies
Better Buddies