The voluntary work by students and teachers of "IES Mediterraneo" at the "Virgen del Mar residence" for the elderly grows out of our long term project "Solidarity Forever" and the "Comenius BIH Project." The residence belonging to the "Edad dorada" association and "Mensajeros de la paz", is situated in Barrio San Antón, in Cartagena. We see this experience as an opportunity to enhance education and the fundamental values necessary for the personal and social development of our students, values such as solidarity, generosity, patience and tolerance which we try to instill in them day by day. In this way they have the chance to dedicate small parts of their free time to the elderly, who are in need of affection and attention, sharing their happiness and youth. It is a way of getting involved in the local community, which we believe will be very positive for both sides.
We have started this activity in the school year 2011/2012 with the purpose that this beautiful idea may prosper and carry on in the future. For now it will serve as a pilot project, so if at the end of the school year, this experience is found to be positive for both sides, we will have the necessary information to begin the next school year with renewed energy and the conviction that our interest and efforts are worthwhile.
At the beginning of this year, after previous meetings between the coordinator teachers and the director of the residence, we agreed to start this activity on a day coinciding with a carnival celebration, in February. We arranged 2 groups of voluntary students and we organised a timetable to go on Fridays from 5-7 to meet the elderly. It is mainly students of 2, 3, 4 ESO authorised by their families who are the members of this voluntary group. They were chosen for their genuine interest in this. There are 25 on the list divided into 2 groups, who take part on alternate weeks. There is a reserved list of 15 students who substitute if one of the others can´t go. The students are accompanied by different voluntary teachers each time and by older students who are doing their practicals in the residence.
The activities are programmed and run by an occupational therapist and by the coordinator teachers with the colaboration of a student in practise. The students give them company, play board games, read poems, short stories, walks, singing and music, chat and listen to their stories, all under the supervision of the teachers. During the time we have spent there, we can see a positive result, so far observing in our students a fantastic attitude, demonstrating a sensitivity, helpfulness and maturity which make us feel proud of them.
The elderly we meet with are a group of between 20-25 who are in relatively good health. The majority are very old, many have mobility and other problems... They wait for us each week and take part with us in the prepared activities for them. We can realise how happy they are with our teenagers.
The relationship with those responsible for the residence is always cordial, demonstrating to us their desire to colaborate. We hope that this experience is useful and positive for all concerned.