Teaching Old Dogs New Tricks: Health Promotion Through Intergenerational Learning In A Regional Men’s Shed


  • Gary Misan
  • Bronwyn Joan Ellis University of South Australia http://orcid.org/0000-0002-4311-4142
  • Olivia M Hutchings University of South Australia
  • Amy K Beech University of South Australia
  • Courtney Moyle University of South Australia
  • Nicola J Thiele University of South Australia




intergenerational learning, occupational therapy, student placements, men’s sheds, health promotion, rural and regional


Intergenerational learning activities benefit both older and younger participants. The Whyalla Men’s Shed (WMS) not only meets many of the needs of its older participants but has recently become involved in several initiatives that foster intergenerational collaboration and learning. An agreement between the University of South Australia (UniSA) and the WMS has resulted in the WMS hosting several projects led by senior Occupational Therapy (OT) students aimed at improving health literacy and promoting healthy lifestyle choices in older men. WMS placements undertaken by the OT students have enabled the students to better understand the enablers and barriers to healthy lifestyle choices in this target group and how to adapt classroom-based knowledge to best engage a disparate group of older men. Initiatives have included informal ‘teaching sessions’ focusing on improving dietary knowledge and skills, and on physical activity and exercise, augmented by informal cooking and exercise sessions suited to the attitudes, skills and abilities of the shed members. Students reported changes in the men’s knowledge, attitude, and behaviours and activities that demonstrated active engagement with the concepts promoted. The student experience was enhanced by working on small projects allowing them to develop basic woodworking and construction skills. Shed members reported enjoying the opportunity to share life stories, skills, and experience while ‘learning by doing’. It is to be hoped that such intergenerational engagements will continue to provide enrichment for both younger and older learners, building mutual respect and enhancing the self-esteem of all concerned.

Author Biographies

Bronwyn Joan Ellis, University of South Australia

Adjunct Research Associate Department of Rural Health University of South Australia | 111 Nicolson Avenue | Whyalla Norrie SA 5608 | Australia

Olivia M Hutchings, University of South Australia

Occupational Therapy student

Amy K Beech, University of South Australia

Occupational Therapy student

Courtney Moyle, University of South Australia

Occupational Therapy student

Nicola J Thiele, University of South Australia

Occupational Therapy student


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How to Cite

Misan, G., Ellis, B. J., Hutchings, O. M., Beech, A. K., Moyle, C., & Thiele, N. J. (2017). Teaching Old Dogs New Tricks: Health Promotion Through Intergenerational Learning In A Regional Men’s Shed. Australian and International Journal of Rural Education, 28(1), 3–16. https://doi.org/10.47381/aijre.v28i1.110