Sunbury’s cross-generational connection

Peter Dean (middle) and his fellow Riddell Gardens Aged Care residents putting on a show for their friends from kinder. (Supplied)

Riddell Gardens Aged Care resident Peter Dean has always loved spending time with children.

“I used to drive a bus for autistic children. It was the best, most rewarding job,” Peter said.

“People would say that these kids would never walk or talk properly, but I would see them do it. It was worth more than any amount of money in the world. That’s what you get out of it, most people don’t understand that.”

Now retired and in need of care, Peter no longer drives the bus from Jacksons Hill, but he has been able to continue doing what he loves.

For the past two years, Riddell Gardens Aged Care has facilitated activities and book readings between its residents and pupils at the nearby Aussie Kindies Early Learning Sunbury.

When COVID-19 restricted the participants’ ability to meet in person, they shifted gear and continued the program over Zoom.

Assuming the role of chief storyteller, Peter said the weekly sessions provided him with a sense of purpose and connection through an otherwise isolating period.

“I love being part of the program and helping where I can. I call Bingo each week and read stories to the kindergarten kids over Zoom, it’s great fun,” he said.

Riddell Garden Aged Care lifestyle assistant Kim Pickering said she was hopeful the program’s young and old participants will be able to reunite in the near future.

Oliver Lees