Pupils from three Isle of Wight primary schools have pulled out all the stops in recent months writing letters and creating beautiful cards and paintings for older residents in care homes.
St Blasius Academy, Shanklin, Lanesend Primary School, Cowes and St Thomas of Canterbury Catholic Primary School, Newport, all participated in a project delivered by local charity Independent Arts, funded by the National Lottery, called ‘School Ties’.
Lessons in care homes
Pre-lockdown ten children from reception and year 1 in each school spent every Friday morning having their lessons alongside ten residents in three care homes.
Project delivery lead, Jo Rigby, explained,
“The mutual support between the children and residents as they worked and learned together through song and craft, stories and gardening was really moving with some great and lasting friendships made between the homes and the schools.
“When the pandemic really began to bite, we knew how lonely residents would be without visits from their friends and families and we were so pleased when the schools were keen to help. We achieved one of the key aims of our lottery funding which is to strengthen communities”
Keeping the connection going
Covid-19 restrictions meant the charity needed to think really creatively about how to develop homes and schools exchange opportunities, and they came up with some pretty novel ideas including audio messaging of Christmas carol singing, pen pal letter exchange, pop-up indoor art galleries with artwork and letters from the homes’ residents to the children displayed in the schools, and artwork and letters from the schools’ pupils to the residents displayed in the homes.
One of the care homes, Brighstone Grange, told us,
“Thank you so much for the exhibition board, the children’s contributions are so lovely and our residents have really appreciated the artwork and the letters.”
Poetic inspiration from James Dore photos
Recently the pupils and residents worked on creating poems themed around a collection of photographs from the Museums Heritage Service archive taken in the 1800s by Sandown photographer James Dore.
Poems were then shared and exchanged between the two groups.
The latest caper the charity has come up with is messenger Pigeon Post.
Jo Rigby told us,
“We wanted to try to come up with fun ways for children and residents to connect and thought this a fantastic way to teach children a little about the incredible work the messenger pigeons carried out during both wars often flying long distances injured and wounded from enemy fire.
“We thought their courage and resilience might inspire us all. It’s also a great way for residents and children to have a little bit of light-hearted fun writing telegrams and messages to one another.
“I’m now busy making felt post bags and some friendly pigeon graphics to carry our post to and fro with all the correct quarantining guidelines in place of course to keep everybody safe.”
Lockdown creative packs
During the first lockdown in March 2020 Independent Arts distributed 300 creative packs to Island children both in and out of school, and to 64 care home residents.
With schools once again closed for the third lockdown the team are flat out producing a further run of 300 packs for children, families, and residents once again. The packs are stuffed full of simple easy to follow creative and learning guides, together with paints, colouring pencils, and glue.
“These are all expensive items for parents to add to their shopping bills and we are acutely aware of the pressure this can put on families particularly at the moment.
“The winter months are hard too with children stuck inside, we wanted to help.”
News shared by Hannah on behalf of Independent Arts, in her own words. Ed