Mail merge

Young and old merge to create a public art project

74-year-old Croydon man Alexei Ho at Boronia Progress Hall, where his art work made alongside five other adults over 60 and nine primary school students from Boronia K-12 College is now on display. PHOTO: TYLER WRIGHT

By Tyler Wright

Croydon resident Alexei Ho, 74, enjoys helping others; so when it came to getting involved in a collaborative art project with elementary school kids from Boronia K-12 College, he couldn’t think of anything better.

“Young grandchildren never spend time with their grandparents and do creative things; they talk and play, [but] that’s it,” Alexei said.

“It’s good – sharing ideas that we can offer to society, to your own community… I love it.

If every place did the same thing, how wonderful the place would be.

Alongside five other adults over 60, Alexei spent one day a week from mid-July through August at Boronia’s Progress Hall creating art with 14 elementary school children from Boronia K-12 College in the part of “My Generation” of the Eastern Community Legal Centre. art project.

“My Generation” was created to break down intergenerational stereotypes, fight ageism and build community connections.

Participants drew animals, people and patterns; the final product injecting bright color into what was a dull alley between Progress Hall and Knox Infolink.

Alexei noticed visitors at the Progress Hall cafe he had never seen before; attributing to the “luminous” artwork made public in September.

“It lights up the place, the place looks so young again, so open,” Alexei said.

Bronwyn Hampshire, a 71-year-old Boronia resident and artist, thought it would be ‘fun’ to create art with her younger counterparts when she first joined ‘My Generation’ – and the experience seemed to live up to his expectations.

“We had to draw something, so one of the [the students] drew a basketball for the head, then the other one did a soccer ball for the body…so I did snake legs and fish arms,” Bronwyn said.

“It’s original art, but it really looks fantastic in the space it’s been placed in.

I’m proud of it, and I’m sure the kids are too.

Cassandra Wright, vice principal at Boronia K-12 College, said misconceptions about creativity or the way of doing things became apparent when students started working with older people, trying something new and to see things from a different angle.

“[The] the foreman worked with them a lot about art as self-expression, they talked a lot about personal values, talked a lot about how we feel and how art reflects how we feel , and I think it lent the kids can have a lot of connections with older people that they might not have seen without it,” Cassandra said.

“Because when they were talking about ‘oh, well, I’m really passionate about the environment,’ and the students were like, ‘oh, actually, I’m really passionate about the environment, I like that a lot too. “, they made connections that they might not have had otherwise.

Cassandra said shy students were able to come out of their shells during the workshops.

“There were a few ideas, probably not wrong, but that older people struggle with mobility and things like that, whereas the older generation that worked with us, they didn’t struggle with their mobility. …they were doing things, they bonded with them about walking dogs and doing all that kind of stuff,” Cassandra said.

For Bronwyn, more programs like “My Generation” could only be good for the community moving forward.

“Whether it’s gardening projects, art projects or dancing…I think that’s a good thing, because there are, I’m sure, a lot of people locked up in their homes, not knowing how to interact with others, especially if their families have moved,” Bronwyn said.

“If projects can be created by anyone, whether it’s counsel or Knox Legal…because not only was it about the kids and the elders, but their parents were there for the day too. the opening, and their parents were able to meet people. , and I got to talk to some of the parents of some of the kids…

There should be more.

Meanwhile, Alexei will continue to volunteer at Hope City Mission in Croydon and the Salvation Army, waiting for the next community project to embark on.

“If you do something that makes you feel good, it’s always better,” he said.

“Kindness is a disease that spreads…everyone kindness brings happiness from little things…

It is priceless.

Eastern Community Legal Center ‘My Generation’ project partners include The Basin Community House, EACH, Eastern Regional Libraries, Knox City Council, Knox Leisureworks, Mullum Mullum Indigenous Gathering Place (MMIGP), Swinburne University and Women’s Health East (WHE) .

“It was an honor to provide a platform for participants to creatively work together, learn about ageism and stereotypes; and seeing their work permanently decorate a walkway in Boronia and celebrated through events – just was the icing on the cake,” said Michael Smith, CEO of the Eastern Community Legal Center.