The official launch of the Waterford Intergenerational Group’s booklet entitled ‘A Trip Down Memory Lane’ took place recently at the Edmund Rice Youth & Community Multiplex, Manor St., Waterford. (header across right page) ‘Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty,” Henry Ford once said.
‘Anyone who keeps learning stays young. The greatest thing in life is to keep your mind young.’
The benefits of lifelong learning are widely recognised and many of us will acknowledge that we are in fact learning every day.
There are opportunities to learn all around us – and some of the most beneficial learning is done outside of the classroom and away from academic circles. Undoubtedly, we can all learn from those around us, regardless of their age or status. The Waterford Intergenerational Group recognises this reality and strives to highlight the potentials for learning which are all around us. The Intergenerational Group brings together people of all ages from the younger to the older generation living in the local Waterford community and aims to promote greater interaction, respect, understanding and learning across the generations.The Waterford Intergenerational Group’s Booklet entitled ‘A Trip Down Memory Lane’ was officially launched by the Mayor of Waterford City & County Council Cllr John Pratt on Tuesday 8th October in the Edmund Rice Youth & Community Multiplex, Manor St., Waterford. The launch was attended by a large group of families, friends and colleagues from the community and statutory sector in the city.The Waterford Intergenerational Group is coordinated by St Brigid’s Family & Community Centre and the Inner City Community Youth Project, with funding for the booklet from Waterford City & County Council.
As part of this latest project, participants were invited to select an item of sentimental value and to discuss this item and its significance to their lives in the booklet. The group met regularly during the summer to share the stories of their treasured items as well as to design a special booklet. This year’s group members included Evan, Stella, Eileen, Joan, Róisín, Chloe, Sally, Olive, Lauren, Julia, Mags and Shellie.They thoroughly enjoyed their get togethers, and even had a special outing to the Waterford & Suir Valley Railway in September.Bringing together different ages serves to highlight how we are all interconnected and how we can all learn from one another.Although the age range of participants in the Intergenerational Group varies (as the name suggests), what’s most striking about the booklet which they have produced is that it illustrates how we are all more similar than we may initially believe.
Regardless of our age or status, we all possess memories which are special to us and items which hold a deep meaning. The treasured items which were selected by the participants to showcase in the booklet all share a common theme in that they all hold sentimental value. Although the participants are at different stages in their lives, their memories and treasured items are timeless. Special photographs, ornaments, handmade items, jewellery and school memories all feature prominently in the impressive publication. One contributor highlighted a sentimental ring which she wears every day.“It was bought for me by my Nanny for my Confirmation and I’ve had it for 23 years,” she explained.“I remember going to town with her to pick it out and get it engraved with my initial ‘M’ for Michelle. Over the years, the engraving has faded, the ring also got caught in a door and was broken. However, I bought it to be repaired and re-engraved because it is a treasured item with lots of lovely memories attached – and my Nanny loves the fact that I still wear my ring.”
Olive included a photo from her wedding day in 1966.She spoke at the launch and highlighted the differences between weddings then and now.She fondly recalled her wedding dress and its details, and spoke of her wedding reception which took place at Dooley’s Hotel.
Meanwhile, Joan selected four pieces of china made at different stages of the 20th century, including a little cup which was bought for her aunt when she was just seven years of age in a second hand shop.
Another cup and saucer, over 50 years old, was a wedding present for Joan’s mother.“I treasure these items as they’re all part of my family’s history,” said Joan. A younger contributor included a photo of a t-shirt commemorating her primary school’s sixth class play which highlighted the positive impact which it had on her life. Another younger member included a photo with her grandfather which was taken on her First Holy Communion Day.
At the event to launch the publication, the group’s members spoke about how much they enjoyed the project, getting to know all ages from across the city, having fun together while learning about their own community too. They said the older people brought wisdom, memories and experience to the group while the younger people brought respect, energy and enthusiasm.When asked for their feedback on the project, the older members said they enjoyed the company of their younger peers which made them feel young again.
They said the younger participants had a great outlook on life and were easy to get along with.
Meanwhile, the younger participants said they enjoyed the experience, knowledge, memories and wisdom of the older people.In terms of learning, all said that everyone had something to say and contribute to the group and everyone co-operated together.
“It’s great that the Intergenerational Project brings people together from across the city as you get a better understanding of your local community,” said one participant.Mayor of Waterford Cllr John Pratt spoke about the wider impact of intergenerational work.He highlighted the contribution older and younger people bring to their families and communities, challenging assumptions and stereotypes of older and younger people in society, improving health and wellbeing of all ages and creating inclusive and age friendly communities.
In an era where we often hear about social isolation and exclusion, it’s heartening to know that different demographics can co-exist harmoniously, as the Waterford Intergenerational Group highlights.
At the launch event, the Intergenerational Group thanked the Mayor for officially launching the booklet, Waterford City & County Council for funding the printing of the booklets, the printers Suirdzign, current and past members of the group as well as everyone who attended the launch and joined with the group in celebrating their achievements. The Intergenerational Group is embarking on a new project called ‘The Art of Wellbeing’ whereby the group will explore what health and wellbeing means to us whatever our age.
The aim is to create a fun and interactive project with lots of opportunities for friendly chats, creativity (e.g. poster making, collages, photography etc) and discussions, with the aim of creating a community display at the end. This will be funded through the HSE National Lottery Grants.
If you will like to become involved in the group, contact Mags in St Brigids on 051 375261 or Shellie in the Inner City Community Youth Project on 086 8589868 for more information.