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24 Jan 2022

Little learners from Limerick after-school club become unlikely pals with nursing home residents

Little learners from Limerick become unlikely pals with nursing home residents

The Manister after school club pupils with their letters and artwork that they sent to the residents of the nursing home

A LIMERICK after school club has gained some new friends in a nursing home in Portlaoise after they wrote letters to them throughout the pandemic.

The Ballard Lodge Nursing Home reached out to Manister After School Club when they saw how involved their pupils were in charities and the community.

After connecting with the school, the nursing home residents started writing letters to the children about themselves and their lives.

In return, the children sent colourings, letters and cards full of love that brightened the days of the elderly residents during lockdown.

There are all different ages in the school and the children quickly formed personal connections with the residents.

The after school manager Sinead Costello shared the children's interests with director of nursing Bernie Brennan and from there they paired up the children with residents.

Bernie said the letter writing has been a source of great pleasure for the residents as well as the staff.

“We connected with the after school last year and the children have been providing laughter and joy to our residents especially where mental wellbeing, stress and boredom were a challenge.

“One child wrote to a 94-year-old resident saying ‘Not everything is amazing right now but everything will get better’.

“In this fast paced world the older residents had time to personalise their words, getting letters back helped them stay connected and we were delighted as we know they had to compete against computer games and TV.”

She continued: “The letters and now the delivery of very personalised Christmas parcels have brought a smile to a lot of faces. Our post box has been full of letters of love.”

The intergenerational and intercounty relationship has grown over the last year with the Portlaoise home even getting behind Limerick's bid for hurling glory.

Bernie said: “We had a green and white flag flying here to support our friends down in Limerick and John Kiely became a household name.

“The little letters that were coming were full of stories of the hurlers, it became a thing for us in the home.

“We became interested in following them and it became something for us to do with them as well, watching the matches kept them going”.

The letters and correspondence have become an important part of the resident's and children's lives.

“It is very personal. We would love to have them come up or for us to go down but with everything going on at the moment of course we can't,” Bernie continued.

“The kids love the names as well, everyone is going back to the older names now so we try and match them up with the same names if we can.”

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