Play isn’t just for children, older generations can benefit too

Play isn’t just for children, older generations can benefit too

UOW researchers launch new resource to support intergenerational playgroups

Young and old will come together for a special Grandparents Morning on Thursday 1 September 2022 when University of Wollongong (UOW) researchers launch a new intergenerational play resource at the Discovery Space.

Play for all Ages is a resource for people who want to facilitate intergenerational playgroups. Director of Early Start Research Professor Lisa Kervin said Play for all Ages presents a structure for intergenerational playgroup sessions and showcases a range of activities and resources.

“We’re excited about this new resource because we know that intergenerational play offers many benefits to young and old,” Professor Kervin said.

“Research shows that children display higher levels of language and problem-solving skills when they have lots of contact with adults, and it’s especially good for older adults. Play promotes relaxation, reduces stress and helps to maintain cognitive skills such as memory and problem solving, and active play helps to increase muscle tone, coordination and reaction time.

“We’re excited to be hosting a Grandparents Morning on Thursday where we will showcase our new resource and bring together children and grandparents to participate in intergenerational play experiences in the Discovery Space.”

The Play for all Ages resource has been in the making for many years. In 2019 the Playful Learning Space at UOW’s Early Start hosted a series of Intergenerational Play Dates with support from Early Start, Playgroup NSW, and the Illawarra Retirement Trust. Expert facilitators led sessions focused on music, stories, art, and movement which were observed and analysed by a team of researchers, led by Professor Kervin.

“We drew from the Intergenerational Play Dates experiences and developed our Play for all Ages resource to guide others who want to facilitate similar sessions,” Professor Kervin said.

“We’ve also designed an online Professional Learning experience which will accompany the resource, to make sure facilitators get as much from this new resource as possible.”

Intergeneration Month is recognised globally every September, the movement celebrates the many benefits of relationships between older adults and younger people.

More information

Play for all Ages and the online Professional Learning experience is the result of a focus on Intergenerational Play from the Play Connections team in the project Connections for Life with Dementia funded by UOW Global Challenges and partners Playgroup NSW and Illawarra Retirement Trust (IRT).

The Play Connections academic team was led by Professor Lisa Kervin and included Associate Professor Lyn Phillipson, Associate Professor Cathrine Neilsen-Hewett, Associate Professor Jessica Mantei and Associate Professor Irina Verenikina.

Playgroup facilitators include Annie O’Sullivan, Tracey Fredericks and Ali Gerritsen. The Discovery Space Manager is Josef English.