Angela Manketelow, youth leader with Coquet Youth team, based at JCSC asked a group of us to become involved with the Young at Heart Day at Willowburn Leisure Centre, Alnwick, on June 19.
It was about promoting fitness to the over 50s and we were going to be part of a younger team helping out and dispelling the stigmas that young people are ‘threatening’ and old people are ‘grumpy’! We were busy from the moment we arrived, meeting and greeting on the door. One lady commented, ‘So nice to be greeted by beautiful faces!’
During the day, we continued to help on the doors, sorting the paperwork and admin and also having a go at the activities – such as zumba, dance and aerobics. We were amazed and impressed at how active and agile the older people were and how much energy they put into the fitness.
When we were resting from the strenuous physical exercise (although we did seem to tire sooner than the older generations), we mixed and mingled with the visitors and had the chance to get to know a little about them. They were really interesting and had lots to talk about from their past, but also about what they are up to now, and were interested in us too.
This was a great learning experience for us, interacting with the older generation and breaking the stigmas on both sides. I think we surprised ourselves at how much fun we had.
There were other stands and exhibits, all related to keeping young at heart and some of us have now signed up as volunteers with the WRVS on a Good Neighbour Programme. As volunteers, we will be involved in visiting and befriending an older person who may be lonely and just needs some company.
We would help out at an event like this again and recommend others in school to do the same. I think we helped to dispel some of the stigmas attached to young people. We also learned a great deal as well as enjoying ourselves and losing some of our prejudices – just because someone is older, does not mean they are not active, interesting or capable and ‘not every old person has bad hips’!
Aaron Agnew, Abby Oliver, Jenny Rutherford, Nina Samra, Sophie Wilson and Robyn Nolan (Year 12)