MAGIC, dance, and poetry were among several surprise Christmas gifts given to elderly North Yorkshire residents by a youth initiative.
Personalised performances and presents were developed and staged by young people from The Imaginarium Creative Studios, a community arts scheme in Redcar, for care home residents in Saltburn-by-the-Sea.
The residents, from Hazelgrove Court Care Home, on Randolph Street, have been visiting The Imaginarium for several months as part of an intergenerational project.
On a previous session, the young people, who range from six to 22 years of age, quizzed residents on their lives, likes, and interests.
Unbeknownst to the residents, the children then started putting together performances as Christmas gifts to show at their next session together.
Carol Coppinger, 89, had told the group her favourite singer was Frank Sinatra, as he brought back special memories, so the young performers choreographed a dance routine to several of Sinatra’s hits.
A teary Carol said: “I cannot believe the children had worked so hard just for me.”
Joyce Tibbett, 87, had showed the group her talents as a magician and joked that she wanted to be Merlin. The children put together a special performance about the Arthurian legend and presented Joyce with a magic box and a book of well wishes.
She said: “I feel like the children have become my extended family.”
Joyce Baxtrem, 91, told the children about herself and the struggles she faced, so they wrote a poem about her life and performed it for her. She said: “It is amazing the children of today have spent the time listening to my memories and creating a poem that I will treasure for the rest of my life.”
Eric Starsmore, 80, was presented with a scrapbook of all the memories he told the group about. He said: “I cannot understand why the children would do something so special for me.”
Sharon Lewis, activities coordinator at Hazelgrove Court Care Home, said: “As you can imagine, there was not a dry eye in The Imaginarium when the children performed and presented to our lovely residents.
“I think it is wonderful how these children have taken our residents into their hearts and have grown to get to know and love them.”
The Imaginarium is led by director Helen Weekley, whose aspiration was to create a space where young people can explore their imagination through creative arts.
Helen Kennedy, wellbeing lead at The Imaginarium Creative Studios, said: “The experiences both ages get from working collaboratively with one another is astounding.
“Young people, who often feel they have nothing to give or feel they don’t have any real value, get so much from the smiles and relationships they can build with those outside their family who are much older.
“The arts can support physical, mental and wellbeing health in young people and is so needed now more than ever, especially for those facing personal challenges. This is why we chose to link with the amazing residents at Hazelgrove.
“Not to mention the phenomenal role modelling the staff team at Hazelgrove provide, particularly Sharon Lewis, to the young people, which has opened some of their eyes to aspire for employment within care.
“Young people, especially those who struggle to fit in, and the older generation, especially those living with dementia, are often assumed to have no value. Our time with Hazelgrove has proved that thought very wrong indeed.”