Launch Of The Linkage Guidelines

  • David Carter
Senior Citizens

Good afternoon and welcome:

Director General of the Department of Social Welfare, Margaret Bazley, my colleague Education Minister Nick Smith, members of the working group behind this handbook, representatives from older person's organisations and students and teachers from schools across the Wellington region.

It is my great pleasure to be your host today welcoming you to the Beehive to see the launch of the new LinkAge Guidelines for schools.

The launch of these Guidelines is very timely this week, given the theme we are celebrating this month for International Year of Older Persons:

"Valuing the relationships between young and old".

Older people today want to do more than retire quietly.

Like many other New Zealanders they are concerned about the future of our young people, they want to contribute to society, and as a group older people have the skills, experience and knowledge to pass on some very valuable messages to our younger generation.

Our schools provide one of the best environments for this interaction to occur, and this is what the LinkAge Guidelines hope to encourage.

Sadly at the close of this century, not all of us have the contact with our grandparents and older family members that we once did.

Today, families are increasingly mobile and few of us are raising children close to our parents anymore.

Our children in many cases are missing out on regular contact with older people and this, in my opinion, is something we collectively need to address.

For far too many youngsters, their only experiences of older people today come from television and newspapers.

And it's fair to say that media images of older people are often restricted to the negative or to stereotyped images that portray getting old as some kind of disabling disease.

This is where the LinkAge Guidelines will play an important role in helping with the Government's goal of "positive ageing".

Positive ageing will occur, not just when older people have good experiences of their ageing, but when we can also change our younger generation's attitudes and expectations of older people.

Intergenerational programmes, such as those promoted by the LinkAge Guidelines, are a powerful medium for changing attitudes about ageing.

There is nothing truer than the saying, there is nothing like personal experience to change your mind on something.

I'm delighted to be able to tell you today that the LinkAge Guidelines handbook will be distributed this month to all 2,800 primary and secondary schools throughout the country, and to all key older people's organisations.

We are not dictating to schools that they should involve older people in their classrooms and playgrounds.

Rather we are encouraging you to take the initiative and to develop a programme that works for you!

Maybe these examples will inspire you.

Hamilton's Hillcrest High School has taken intergenerational programmes to heart with a series of courses that focus on the experiences of our older generations.

Over in Wainuiomata, Parkway College uses older adults to work alongside its students to provide support and assistance.

The "Tu Tangata" programme which means "standing tall", has been spectacularly successful in boosting the educational progress of some of its students.

Finally, Ngaruawahia High School has to be commended on their innovative use of older volunteers within their Truancy prevention programme.

Older adults are working with the students involved, their family and the school to find solutions to the problem of truancy in this community.

These three examples illustrate the amazing potential and scope there is for intergenerational programmes to play a real role in schools.

These are programmes that add value to your school's social and academic prowess; programmes that also bring your community closer to your students and in doing so, you are enabling "positive ageing" to take place in our communities.

I would encourage you all here today to take up the challenge the LinkAge Guidelines handbook delivers.

Positive Ageing is a goal we should all be supporting.

Encouraging relationships of substance between our generations is the first step.

Thank you for your time today.

It now gives me great pleasure to officially launch these guidelines.

I will now hand the proceedings back to Margaret Bazley.