Age Scotland Community Development Officer Suzy Gentle shares her experiences discussing age discrimination with young people.
Last month I was in Kemnay and Oldmeldrum (Aberdeenshire) taking part in an important piece of Intergenerational work.
Respect for All is a programme intended to raise the issues of equality and diversity with S2 & S3 school pupils (12-14 years old), tasking them with taking the same message back to feeder primary schools. There were four workshops which took place four times each day.
These workshops concentrated on Age, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) people, Race and Disability. Each group contained about 20 pupils therefore the message was heard by 160 pupils who will become Ambassadors for their schools and feedback their learning to “feeder” primary Schools.
It was then my turn to lead a workshop on Age. The groups were introduced to the work of Age Scotland and asked to come up with a definition of Old Age. This prompted very varied responses including “past your prime”!! However generally once we discussed older people as experienced and skilled members of the community some very touching and positive stories came from the groups. Experience of older people mainly from Grandparents obviously had a positive effect and one boy spoke enthusiastically about his Granddad to be followed by another boy talking about his Great Granddad.
The workshop included discussions on Age Discrimination both of young and older people. Highlighting how it felt to be discriminated against or bullied brought to life the feelings of older people and the importance of respect.
I found the workshops both challenging and inspiring. The importance of getting people together and discussing opening feelings, stereotypes and discrimination cannot be over emphasised.
The young people were very insightful and gave an alternative to the often negative image portrayed in the media. They inspired me to get older people involved in any future workshop.
All in all a positive experience which could have a positive effect on both younger and older people.