Crafting Relationships (UK) have shared their YourStory project with us.
“My husband and I were going to book a holiday, but this takes priority”, said one of our grandparent volunteers for YourStory, a unique intergenerational, social action project for children, grandparents and honorary grandparents linking education, heritage, social action and community.
Starting in January 2020, Crafting Relationships, with funds from Y Heritage, trialled their innovative project in three Leicestershire primary school Year 5 classes. The fostering of intergenerational relationships and positive impact of YourStory on both students and their grandparents has been wonderful to witness.
The project began with an exploration of historical social movements and inspirational people, such as Rosa Parks and the American Civil Rights Movement and the Women’s Suffrage Campaign. The knowledge and insight that our grandparents added to these sessions, as well as the support that they gave the children in helping to formulate and articulate their own ideas, added layers of depth to the students’ responses and understanding of the topics. The content had a profound effect on some of our grandparents.
For example, after seeing images of the Civil Rights Movement and linking this to more local examples of overcoming adversity, one grandparents told us how “moved” she had been by the content of the session because this had happened within her lifetime, and she was shocked at how badly people had been treated “having this on the big screen really brought it home to me, and it is sad that some of these things still happen today”.
Another great moment, which illustrates the depth of involvement of our grandparents, was when an honorary grandparent asked if he could start one of our sessions by telling the students about his experience of playing cricket with Gary Linekar, who had been one of the examples of a local hero in a previous session about the Magna Carta and social mobility. The students thought that this was fantastic and it sparked a lot of discussion about the inspirational messages derived from Gary’s story.
The heritage lessons were followed by sessions focused on supporting the classes to choose and plan their own social campaign for a local cause. The three topics chosen were:
1) reducing plastic pollution in the local area, 2) food banks and reducing poverty, and 3) supporting the Isla Stones campaign to raise awareness of childhood cancer.
The grandparents helped the children articulate their choices and ‘link the thinking’ back to how people in the past changed the world around them.
The Crafting Relationships team noticed that there was a definite link between the level of student engagement during the sessions and the number of grandparents involved with each class. One class had fewer grandparents involved, which meant that many of the tasks were more ‘teacher led’. Although this was not a problem and the students still engaged with the activities, it was wonderful to see the little ‘huddles’ of conversation that formed in the groups where there was a grandparent at each table.
The bonds that were forming between the generations and the type of discussion taking place was wonderful to see.
After choosing their social campaign and planning how to deliver it, the students set out on a creative adventure. They were introduced to methods of print making, paper folding and collage to produce materials to support their campaign. Throughout all of these sessions we showed how people behind the scenes can be just as important as those in the spot-light, encouraging the skills of compromise, collaboration and active listening.
This is when our grandparent who was going to book a holiday decided that her involvement in the project superseded her holiday plans. She saw true value in her regular attendance at the sessions and enjoyed the connection that she had made with the young people around her.
YourStory was designed to increase the aspiration and wellbeing of primary students and increase agency amongst older community members by bringing the two together. What we have witnessed through an interesting and relevant programme, highlights the value of these novel intergenerational interactions for both youth and older adults in our community.
For further information on the work of Crafting Relationships, please contact:
Beth Holmes email@example.com
Katherine Brown CEO and Founding Director firstname.lastname@example.org
Thanks to our Blog Editor Kate for editing this blog.
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