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Listening and Learning

“Aging is not lost youth but a new stage of opportunity and strength." - Betty Friedan

For many, reaching old age beckons a time of vulnerability and isolation; however, for me at least, Betty Friedan’s quote rings true; not only to those aging but for those who have just begun their journey through this world.

Channel 4 aired a new show, Old People’s Home for 4 Year Olds, a televised social experiment in which they explored and assessed the impact of integrating ten nursery children amongst ten elderly individuals.

Over the course of six weeks the youth and the elderly would participate in tasks which were designed to improve both the mentality and mobility of the older generation who were in the care home.

We may call this show a social experiment, but why should we have to experiment and televise in socialising and forming relationships with individuals who are seemingly different to ourselves? Why should we have to search for the statistics of the benefits of gleaning conversation, history and life lessons from those in an older generation? Or experiment with the fresh and new perspectives of those in the younger generation?

I remember when members of groups such as brownies or scouts would organise regular visits to care homes to socialise, perform for those residing there and, ultimately, to listen. Listening is such a crucial quality for many aspects in life and the basis of forming many relationships. I find that with listening comes patience, learning and growth. Sometimes we are too busy talking that we forget that there is more to be gained from someone else’s perspective and voice than our own.

At ubu we believe that it is imperative and fair that everyone is both involved and engaged within the community or with those who have similar interests. We believe that everyone has a place in society and it is to the benefit of all, that people are always welcome and included.

So, in referring back to Friedan’s quote, opportunity is a poignant word in the face of such a television show as Old People’s Home for 4 Year Olds because, as our philosophy states, everyone should have the opportunity to achieve what they want and feel part of the community.

Every single person on this planet has individualism and experience enough to contribute to both society and their own community. So why should we not utilise that?

Perhaps if we took the time to listen, we could benefit from the wisdom of the older generation and their experiences of the twentieth century. Integrating this with the fresh perspectives of younger generations living in a modern technologized twenty-first century. We could be forming wider community groups and working on our vision of the future together.


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