A generous donation has allowed a Wagga high school’s rapidly expanding initiative to open its arms to the town’s elderly community.
In 2013 Mount Austin High’s Grow and Give campaign saw garden beds established on the school’s campus and has since expanded to include community gardens in Tolland and Edel Quinn.
Now, after generous donations from both Uniting and SUEZ, the school has created two raised garden beds, which are wheelchair and walker accessible and intended for the use of town’s elderly community.
Uniting, which aims to strengthen and enliven communities, donated $23,000 to the school for the construction of the beds, while SUEZ provided $5,000 for soil and compost.
The school’s agricultural teacher Scott Callaghan said one aim of including the elderly in the program was to improve their general health.
"Being outside and being part of the community really helps elevate the elderly’s mental health, and gardening gives them something fun and creative to do,” he said.
Uniting’s community development coordinator for the Riverina Neil Barber said one of the organisation’s core programs was community aged care, so supporting Grow and Give was an obvious choice.
“We really wanted to get behind the campaign, because it could be a really positive experience for the elderly who come to Uniting,” he said.
"As you get older, if you can keep active and maintain the interests you had throughout your life, that helps you stay healthy longer.”
A number of elderly people have shown interest in the program, with Uniting aiming to organise monthly trips to the garden beds.
Wagga’s residential aged care, The Haven, also plan on utilising the garden beds, which will contain vegetables the gardeners can take with them.
Mr Callaghan said the school was looking forward to seeing the elderly integrate themselves among the community.
"It'll be great to get some inter-generational conversation going between the students and the elderly, so they can pass on their wisdom to the children,” he said.
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