A child care centre has opened as part of a newly-built Western Sydney retirement living project, in a ground-breaking move which reflects growing evidence about the benefits of intergenerational living.
On January 11, a long day care centre will run with an approved capacity of 75 children opened as part of the Uniting Westmead project. This is believed to be the first time a child care centre has been planned and constructed in a newly-built retirement living project.
The centre will cater for children aged six weeks to five years.
It has a separate entrance and is located on the Parramatta Park side of the project, directly under retirement living apartments. This means that current and future residents are likely to hear the pleasant chatter and mischief of young children at times during the day, if they keep their windows open.
Uniting says children and residents will also be encouraged to share their experience and knowledge with each other through community programs on the site.
The ABC series ‘Old People’s Home for Four-Year-Olds” - which screened in 2019 - showcased how children’s development is aided by intergenerational relationships by allowing them to explore their own creativity and unstructured learning through ‘play’ with older Australians.
In addition, research published in early 2020 showed that intergenerational activity helps maintain the quality of life of older Australians who require aged care support. The research recommends that the best results can be obtained when child care and aged care facilities are co-located, such as in the Uniting Westmead situation.
Uniting says that whilst face-to-face between the littlies and oldies will be delayed during the COVID-19 pandemic, the early learning centre is busy planning activities for when they can first meet.
The long day care will also have a strong focus on the exploration of environmental sustainability and connecting children with nature.
The centre has also been purpose-built with this in mind and offers an abundance of spaces and environments for kids to explore including sandpits, a mud kitchen, chicken pen, vegetable gardens whilst also being in close proximity to Parramatta Park.
The new education centre will be a welcomed addition to the community with many residents identifying a need to increase the number of quality long day care options in Sydney’s west.
Uniting Head of Early Learning, Rod Nadwie-Smith said: “We’re excited to be opening the early learning centre at Uniting Westmead to local families. At Uniting, we aim to create services in areas where there is a real community need.”
“The Uniting Westmead site is dedicated to bringing different generations together to foster awareness, understanding and respect between each other whilst reducing social isolation of some of our most vulnerable Australians.
“It is especially exciting to imagine how the early learning centre will interact with the campus and imagine the supportive community that will birth in this precinct.”