Abbeywood students break generational barriers with Osbourne Court residents

Year 9 student Liv Lewis, reading a selection of her own work to the residents of Osborne Court.

A group of Year 9 students at Abbeywood Community School have met with residents of Osbourne Court to form an ‘Intergenerational Book Group’ as a way of meeting and interacting with members of the community and to share some of their favourite pieces of writing.

On Wednesday 6th December, seven ladies from the residential home travelled to Abbeywood and were greeted with coffee, cake and a friendly group of students. The generational barrier didn’t take long to break through as students and residents both interacted happily with each other, sharing stories about their different lives.

After some warm beverages and sweet treats were enjoyed, the students read out some poems that they had written as well as reading extracts from some Christmas stories which were all met with claps from the Osbourne Court residents.

Debbie Swindail, school librarian and organiser of the group, explained:

“The Intergenerational Book Group aims to bring together different generations from the same community and create opportunities to learn from each other in a relaxed environment, breaking down barriers and building bridges over tea, cake and books. All of our students really enjoyed helping and meeting the ladies and cannot wait to meet them again.”

Fortunately, the students didn’t have to wait long as another book group session was arranged for Monday 22nd January; this time being held at Osbourne Court. The residents enjoyed hosting the event, talking to the students about a variety of topics including the war, pets and their own school lives. The topic of conversation then moved onto books as one of the students read a chapter from Andrew Norriss’ ‘Jessica’s Ghost’, a story about the power of friendship, with one of the residents commenting that they “have never heard anything like that before”.

It seems as though the intergenerational book group was a success, with students from the school commenting:

“It was nice to meet others and interact in a small group, I especially liked reading to everyone.” (David Boyes)

“It helped me to have a clearer understanding of different age groups and I gained confidence in speaking to different people.” (Maisie Brown)

The group has been so successful that new students have started to join and more visits are being arranged with the residents of Osbourne Court.

Discussing the impact that these sessions are having on the students, Debbie said:

“I think students have learnt key communication skills and have begun to break down barriers and negative stereotypes that can often surround certain age groups.  It has been particularly nice to see some of the students grow in confidence.”

During World Book Day, which took place on Thursday 1st March, the whole of Abbeywood school voted for their ‘all time favourite book’ and once the winners have been announced, members of the book group will be reading extracts from the top three voted books to the residents of Osbourne Court during their next visit.

Photo: Year 9 student Liv Lewis reads a selection of her own work to the residents of Osborne Court.

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