Young and old put pen to paper

By Ed McLeish

A blend of youth and experience was on show at Balaclava Child Care Centre, as seven Banksia Lodge residents went to visit 20 kindergarten kids for morning tea.

Last year, the children and elderly citizens participated in a pen pal program, where younger pals would share their interests and their older friends would spread wisdom and recall their hobbies as a youngster.

The morning tea gathering marked the first time the aged care residents had physically met the children at the centre.

Scones, sandwiches, fruit, biscuits and iced tea were spread among the party, while story time, singing, memory games and puzzles were popular activities in the Christmas-decorated room.

The children were initially shy when greeting the residents, but were soon mingling and laughing together.

At the end of morning tea, the children handed the old folks small gifts of soap, chocolate and face washers as a token of thanks.

Among the fun, the oldest resident at Banksia Lodge, 105-year-old Edna Harling, gave her pal Xavier Murphy, 4, some advice for living a long life.

“You’ve just got to be happy and positive,” she said.

Edna said she had been at Banksia Lodge for nearly three years, after 25 years at Kialla Gardens.

“It’s really nice here at Banksy,” she said.

When it came to tips for healthy eating, Edna said her favourite food was avocado.

She said back in the day her husband toiled tirelessly as a teacher, while she would roll the arm under as a competitive lawn bowler.

“I used to play for Victoria,” she said.

She retired from the game five years ago, when she hit triple figures.

Morning tea organiser Frances Gascoyne said she thought the event went beautifully.

“It’s delightful to see the residents and children in conversation,” she said.

“It’s a beautiful friendship and it’s great value for both parties — young and old.”