INsite shares how a community-focused, not-for-profit retirement village successfully works with the local high school for the benefit of the students, residents, families, staff and wider community.

Aparangi Village has been at the heart of the rural Te Kauwhata community ever since the idea of the village was first conceived by a group of like-minded, energetic people who wanted to support their older population to remain in their home community when they needed care and support. Like many other not-for-profit providers, Aparangi’s vision is to remain visible, sustainable and true to its social purpose.

Aparangi’s focus extends beyond its residents to the wider community and the younger generation. Its recent collaboration with the local college is an excellent example.

The village has hosted students and teachers who have embarked on many projects within the care unit and the village. The students have worked alongside staff, residents and families to make a difference in the lives of those who live there. They have made chocolate, worked around the gardens, entertained and generally connected with the residents. There has been a noticeable increase in iPad use among residents since the students’ involvement! They have added spark, enthusiasm and energy to many of the residents’ lives; according to staff, the buzz around the village over several weeks was “phenomenal”.

The ‘Aroha Reflections’ memorial garden was another collaborative project. The students rolled up their sleeves and, working alongside staff and the family of the late Noel Bunn, they transformed the courtyard within the care facility into a little piece of paradise for many to enjoy. New Zealand native plants take pride of place in the garden, which was created in honour of the late Mr Bunn and his wife and of the ‘Strong Generation of New Zealanders – Past, Present and Future’.

Such projects have helped the village to retain a central role within the community. They have also helped younger people to feel more connected with the older people in the community.

Aparangi has previously taken on Gateway students. The purpose of the Gateway programme is to enable schools to provide senior students (year 11 and above) with opportunities to access structured workplace learning.

The students’ workplace learning stints at Aparangi have proved popular with both students and residents. The Gateway programme has resulted in many young people volunteering at Aparangi and has seen some embark on employment, bringing with them an energy and vibrancy that the residents welcome and enjoy.

Aparangi exists as a result of the vision of a group of individuals. Every day the team members think about how to keep this vision fresh and current and connected to their community. Working with the school is just one example where they make a difference in many people’s lives.

Does your village or aged care facility have an example of great practice or a feel-good story to share? We’d love to hear about it. Please contact Jude at editor@insitemagazine.co.nz.

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