FEATURE: Children bring 'infectious joy' to Clevedon care home through community project

PUBLISHED: 12:00 03 February 2019

The Communi-tree in the making.

The Communi-tree in the making.

Winash/Wyldwood Arts

Two generations came together to create a community tree thanks to thousands of pounds in funding.

The Communi-tree in the making.The Communi-tree in the making.

Winash Care Home residents teamed up with children for a Communi-Tree collaborative project.

The Big Lottery Fund awarded £9,996 to the Winash Wingers, based at the home in Clevedon, who worked with Rydal Day Nursery, Clevedon Brownies, the YMCA and Ravenswood School to create an art sculpture.

The home commissioned Wyldwood Arts to produce the intergenerational arts-based project with the residents and young people.

From February 2018 onwards, weekly sessions lasting two to three hours were run by associate producer Hannah Clarke and associate artist Josie Rogerson to work towards creating the tree.

Over 10 months, the groups created parts of the Communi-tree, including a few sessions with a willow weaver, to create the main sculpture and several smaller trees groups could take home with them.

Activities included working with clay and mosaic, creating decorations including insects, fruits and flowers and decorating pebbles to put around the tree.

Anne Ellis, the activity co-ordinator at the home, said: “We wanted to ensure the young worked alongside and cooperatively with the residents, and we would have an element of chatting and singing at every session.

“We have already seen friendships being forged, a pupil from St Nicholas Chantry Primary School and his dad has been coming in to visit a gentleman at the home.

“Another pupil and his mum are going to be visiting one of our ladies, who they bonded with at the presentation party where they realised they all speak German, which gives our lady the opportunity to reuse these skills.

“The connections between us at Winash and the groups will continue, I always wanted it to be a springboard into lasting relationships between Winash and the groups.

“Residents have felt useful being able to rediscover skills they had used in their younger years with family, and it has triggered lovely conversations between residents after the children have left the building.

“We have enjoyed having the joy that the children brought into the building, it has been infectious and leaving us after with feelings of an afternoon or evening well spent.”

The Communi-tree is on display at the home to act as a reminder to those involved in the ‘wonderful’ project.

Izzy Heywood, a spokesman for Wyldwood Arts, said: “By engaging in creative activities which all members of a group can focus on and share in, those involved are able to talk to people from different generations they normally would not have contact with, either because they otherwise would not get the chance to be involved in a project like this or because they don’t have grandparents or grandchildren living locally.

“They are able to find out about each others lives, make sense of and reconcile life experiences, understanding and celebrating the present and creating a legacy for the future.

“Younger generations are able to learn life skills and a wealth of knowledge and experience which older generations can share with them, and the older generations are able to try activities and learn things about life as a young person in today’s society, as well as discovering skills they used to have and use during their youth, but perhaps haven’t for many years.”

The project culminated in a big celebration at the end of last year where more than 70 people, including residents from the home and the groups, took part in games, arts and crafts and singing before the final completed Communi-tree was revealed for the first time.

Hannah said: “It has been wonderful to see how positive the impact of the project has been on all those involved – both young and older – and to watch connections forming between the groups.

“Some of the children involved have even started writing to older residents they had particularly special connections with as part of a pen pal scheme, and visiting them outside sessions, which is a lovely way for the project to continue beyond the end of the workshops.

The care home is already planning an Easter egg hunt with the beavers and are exploring a sports day in the summer with Rydal.

If you wish to view the tree, contact Anne by sending an email to winashactivities@yahoo.co.uk

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