Ebenezer Methodist Church in Trinity
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Play-Doh fun in church unites children and elderly people

Mon 29 Apr 2019
By Premier Journalist

A church in the Channel Islands has started an innovative group which brings people in their 70s, 80s and 90s together with some of the youngest members of the congregation.

The group is called 'Generations' and holds meetings in Ebenezer Methodist Church in Trinity.

The idea was inspired by the Channel 4 television programme 'Old People’s Home for 4 Year Olds' which explored the social and health benefits of older people making friendships with very young children. Experts claim there are benefits for both age groups.

 

Community lay worker, Amy Britton, who started the group said the five-year-olds are already making positive friendships with some of the older generation.

"There's a young man called Ethan who's six and he is incredible," she told Premier.

"He doesn't have elderly relatives in his life. And his mum said to me at the start 'I don't know if he'll enjoy it. I don't know he'll behave.'

"And he holds the most incredible conversations with people who maybe adults would find quite austere or intimidating. And he makes one particular lady smile like you just can't image.

"It's a magical thing to see - it really is."

Marian holding Alex

 

Inside the church, children and older people gather alongside each other with tables set out with building blocks, paints and craft materials.

Britton said everyone gets involved: "I learnt early on that what five-year-olds enjoy, elderly people enjoy more. So, Lego, absolutely.

"The most popular thing we've done is getting the Play-Doh out.

"It's things that either they've never done because it arrived after their time, or it's something they haven't done in years and they really miss."

Five-year-old Ellie said some of the older people are now her friends.

"We do lots of activities and we make things," the youngster said.

"We have wooden stuff and we draw the things. I drew a happy person and love hearts."

For Britton, the new group is more about making connection in the local community that any sort of formal Evangelism.

She explained: "I firmly believe that church isn't really something that (just) happens on a Sunday. It's something that shares love with the community that you are part of.

"My personal form of Christianity is trying to do some good where I am."

Jessica with Pauline and Nessie

 

John Routier is in his 90s. He initially was unsure whether 'Generations' would be a success.

"I had no idea about what it was about," he said.

"But obviously it became pretty apparent when I arrived there.

"There were quite a lot of small children. And quite a lot of people my age, or getting on for my age

"I mucked in with the rest of them.

"There were various activities going on. In the course of doing that (the older people) got involved, and (the five-year-olds) got involved as well."

Community lay worker, Amy Britton, said it's hard to say whether the five-year-olds enjoy the group more than the older people, or vice versa.

But she highlighted another group of people who have responded positively to 'Generations'.

"I've seen mums brought to tears when they realise how much their children are giving, and getting back, from this relationship with the elderly people," she said.

"They're so passionate about it. It's beautiful to see."

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