WelCom News
A newspaper for the Wellington and Palmerston North Catholic Dioceses

Service initiative with great rewards

November 2014


Fiona D’Souza

At St Patricks this year we’ve been trying to think of ways to give students opportunities to develop a desire to make a difference. We only have four classes and a part-time class. And now every term, one class spends an afternoon at the nearby Rita Angus Retirement Village and they perform songs, dances and dramas for the residents. The students then spend time chatting to the residents. It’s been a wonderful opportunity for our students.

Each class from the new entrants to the intermediates makes a term visit so students are all involved.

The residents are so warm and welcoming and the benefits for our students have proved to be immense. They are developing an appreciation of the fact we each have the ability to make a difference. Spending time with the elderly is a privilege, which some of our students have little opportunity to do because so many are immigrants with grandparents living in other countries. Our students relish the attention they are given in the mingling time and it’s so beneficial for their communication skills. The residents are attentive and inspiring.

One of the students with language-processing difficulties had very limited speaking abilities when his class visited the Village earlier in the year. But it turned out he was in his element enthusiastically socialising with as many residents as he possibly could. I asked one of the residents if he was actually speaking to them and she looked at me with puzzlement as she replied in the affirmative.

Our students return to school buzzing and we are very grateful for the opportunity.

Fiona D’Souza is DRS, St Patrick’s Primary School, Kilbirnie.