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Local schoolchildren read with elderly residents to combat social isolation

Richard Taylor Primary School have teamed up with Harrogate Neighbours to combat social isolation. Schoolchildren will record a selection of short stories to be played to the elderly residents throughout National Storytelling Week. The residents, in return, will be recording stories of their life past and present for the pupils. Residents at Harrogate Neighbours have joined up with pupils at Richard Taylor Primary School in Harrogate to celebrate National Storytelling Week (30th – 6th February) by sharing tales to educate and inspire each generation. Ten pupils between the ages of seven and 11, who each share a love of reading, will record a selection of traditional short stories, poetry and extracts from the likes of “The Hodgeheg” by Dick King Smith. These will then be played to the residents at Harrogate Neighbours throughout the week-long event. In return, the residents will record stories to provide an insight into their past and present life in lockdown from the viewpoint on an older person. Encouraging the exchange of storytelling and focusing on this element of learning and communication, the initiative aims to give pupils a purpose knowing that the recordings shared with the residents at Harrogate Neighbours will help to tackle the feeling of isolation. Speaking on behalf of Harrogate Neighbours, CEO Sue Cawthray said:

"We would like to say a huge thank you to the teachers and children at Richard Taylor Primary School for agreeing to take part in this initiative. Storytelling in all forms is a key part of caring for the elderly and we know what a positive impact it has on our residents when they engage with the younger generation. "We hope this initiative will be mutually beneficial to both our residents and the children taking part."
Commenting on the initiative, Mr Andrew Symonds, Head Teacher at Richard Taylor Primary School said:
"We were delighted when Harrogate Neighbours contacted us about the initiative. Storytelling is central to our curriculum - we read a range of genres, from classic tales to contemporary fiction and picture books. "As a school, we are heavily involved in the community and pre-lockdown we would invite elderly members of the community into school for tea and a talk with our pupils. We believe strongly in the importance of Intergenerational activities and look forward to being involved in this year’s National storytelling Week with Harrogate Neighbours."
Studies suggest that intergenerational activities are said to have a positive impact on mental health, in both the older and younger generation. Whilst lockdowns continue, the elderly are more isolated than ever and the younger generation are adapting to a new social norm, which for many is an increase in screen time. Encouraging the exchange of storytelling and focusing on this element of learning and communication, aims to give pupils a purpose knowing that the recordings shared with the residents at Harrogate Neighbours will help to tackle the feeling of isolation. Likewise, the stories recorded by the residents aim to provide an insight into their past and present life in lockdown from the viewpoint on an older person. To help support Harrogate Neighbours through volunteering, donating, fundraising, sponsoring an event or to join the team please visit www.hnha.co.uk or call 01423 888777. Read more local stories from Your Harrogate here.

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