Home' Aurora : Aurora December 2013 Contents Headlines suggest social media has
changed the world and young people have
lost the ability to communicate face to face
with older people. Read on and learn how
Year 6 students at Holy Family Primary,
Merewether Beach, with their teacher Ben
McCarthy, paint a bright future for their
The class is participating in the "Sing Out
Loud Together" program. In consultation
with Arts Health Institute, the eight-week
literacy and culture program is facilitated
by Maestro Steph, who has received
special training to conduct the program.
"Sing Out Loud Together" has its roots in
singing with older people connected to an
aged care facility.
Through the program, which is directly
linked to Stage 3 curriculum outcomes,
the unique power of music is used to
engage the elderly and the young. This
engagement elicits positive emotional
responses and stimulates cognitive
functioning in the elderly as they engage
with the young people.
Before the face to face contact, Holy Family
students learned about the immune system
of the aged, proper hand wash techniques
and WHS sensitivities to their physical
environment. Students also prepared
letters of introduction for their singing
'buddy' and each week prepare questions
to ask their elder.
When the students enter the facility, the
faces of the elders light up like a Christmas
tree. The kids' faces light up too.
Sitting round the staff room table with
students Jordan Smith, Erin Mulhearn,
Louie Carmichael, Holly Draganic, Isabella
Moretti, Claudia Mackay and Darcy Fallon, I
had to slow them down as their enthusiasm
was boiling over! The key words they used
to describe their experiences were "fun,
exciting, respect, laughter".
Holly's buddy Mick has reverted to his
native Croatian tongue. Fortunately, Holly
has picked up a few words from her Dad's
Croatian heritage. They have formed a real
bond and Holly even has a photo of Mick
"on the fridge" at home. She knows when
Mick shouts "Yahoo", he's having a ball.
Claudia and Darcy are seasoned
performers through the Catholic Schools'
performing arts ASPIRE program so have
relished the occasion to sing to their
buddies. The girls sing along to "You are
my Sunshine" but have also shared a
Bruno Mars number!
Jordan adopts a mature approach as
she realises that regardless of age your
personality doesn't change, your attitude is
the same and "Old people still laugh!"
The students insist that this experience
isn't simply a chance to get out of class.
Isabella emphasises it's a genuine
opportunity for the elderly folk to expand
their family and see their "adopted
grandchildren" in a fun environment.
The kids are fascinated by the stories. One
of the men tells of being a member of the
squadron 'G for George' and quick as a
flash, Louie recalls the class trip to the War
Memorial in Canberra and spotting the
squadron's plane. Suddenly history comes
alive. Stories about the Depression and
surviving bombing attacks by the Germans
during the war fascinate the students.
As Steph moves the morning along, it's
soon time to tread the boards. Moving to
perfect rhythm from the piano, the elderly
turn back time and teach the 'young ones'
a few steps. This appears exhausting
for some but with smiles on their faces,
the fatigue is insignificant. Even though a
few of the elderly no longer speak, music
and dancing are their mutual modes of
The program culminated in a concert at
Holy Family School where the families of
both the elderly and the Year 6 students
were invited to witness the loving bond that
had developed between the generations.
The Year 6 students began 2013 as
buddies to the new kinders. They have
ended the year as buddies to the elderly.
They have come full circle.
BY HELENE O'NEILL
(l-r) Jordan Smith, Jim, Claudia Mackay and Margaret have participated in "Sing
out Loud Together". Photo courtesy of Joanne Isaac.
www.mn.catholic.org.au Catholic Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle
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