Life lessons: learning between generations

  • Group photo of elderly woman with student and participants
    100 years of history from one resident
  • Young girl interviewing elderly woman
    Interviewing a resident
  • Group of elders and student looking at household items from days of past
    Unfamiliar technologies

Photos: Stu Nankivell

Social inclusion and a sense of having a valued contribution to make are essential for wellbeing. A recent project has contributed to breaking down social isolation among residents at an aged care facility and created links between generations.

Through a partnership consisting of D’Faces of Youth Arts, Whyalla City Council and the Whyalla Writers’ Group, participants young and old learned from each other at the Annie Lockwood Court residential care facility, Whyalla South Australia, during the September 2018 school holidays.

While residents gave the young ones an insight into their life experience over the decades – wartime danger and hardship, older technologies, settling in a new land, making do – they in turn learned from their visitors about modern technologies and even toys such as Tamagotchi.

As well as all the learning, amid much fun new friendships were formed.

The Whyalla Writers’ Group assisted with recording oral histories. Claire Glenn (Adelaide-based theatre maker, youth arts facilitator and actor) and Stu Nankivell (digital multimedia artist) created a 15-minute documentary about the project (see the trailer), which premiered at the Whyalla Film Festival in October.

A compendium of Annie Lockwood Court residents’ stories was shared at a celebratory meal on the last day of the project, and a book has been published incorporating residents’ accounts of their early lives. Some accounts provided a window into growing up in Whyalla, while others spoke of migration experiences. The book also included residents’ thoughts at the start of the project concerning what they hoped to learn from the young people and in turn pass on to them, as well as some comparisons of past and present life.

A survey of the young participants revealed their enjoyment in taking part, and new skills learned and insights gained from the residents. Photographs of the activities and cartoons by local artist Stephen Stanley formed the illustrations for the book.

For more information, see and

Funding for the project was provided through grants from Australian Government Regional Arts Fund, Country Arts SA and the Whyalla City Council.


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