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