A group of Filipino Australian seniors and student volunteers are bridging generations through art. The two groups are participating in a four-week beginners’ art class at Our Lady of the Rosary Parish in Fairfield, which is sponsored by the NSW Government.
The program, called “Connection Through Creativity: Intergenerational Art Project,” is developed and hosted by Good Neighbours Australia (GNAU) in partnership with the Philippine Australian Society for Seniors Citizens Inc. (PASSCI) and Fairfield City Council.
“These classes provide a chance for people to get out of the house, learn a new skill, meet new people, create art and lots of fun memories,” said Sylvia Lee, Executive Director of GNAU.
Under the guidance of an experienced art instructor, each class sees 15 young adults paired with 15 seniors to work on a complementary painting. Each community group will meet for four weeks, strengthening their bonds over time. The classes are specifically designed to stimulate conversation as participants connect over creating art and sharing morning tea.
“The excellent arts classes inspired the Filipino Australian Seniors to learn, utilize and improve their talent on painting as well as appreciate the arts,” said Jose Relunia, President of PASSCI. “I’d also like to thank the student volunteers from the Australian Catholic University (ACU) for taking the time to teach our elders. The four Fridays in August 2023 would always be remembered by the participants as they start enjoying life after the pandemic.”
Many of the young participants are recruited through GNAU’s partnership with the Australian Catholic University’s Community Engagement program, which encourages students to volunteer and work with people who may experience disadvantage or marginalization.
Through a grant provided by the NSW Government, GNAU will roll out the program for four new culturally and linguistically diverse communities in 2023. Aside from PASSCI, other new partners for the program include SydWest Multicultural Services in Blacktown, and the Inner West Library network.
The program is a great example of how art can be used to bring people together and build stronger communities. It is also a testament to the power of volunteerism and the importance of giving back to our communities.