Year Two children from Belgrave Primary School were special guests at the Belong Chester dementia care village, on City Road, to see the unveiling of a marine-themed art installation, made from ceramics created by them.
Belgrave School was invited to create the colourful clay fish for the artwork in the village garden after pupil Naomi Shetty won a competition to design a card to welcome the residents of Belong Chester to the village when it opened last year.
The competition prize was for Naomi’s class took part in a ceramics workshop with acclaimed sculptor Brigitte Jurack, organised by Belong and charity Ready Generations, which runs the Nursery in Belong, located at Belong Chester.
There was more art created on the day as the children made a ‘wishing wall’ with messages of kindness for residents.
The idea was inspired by the centuries-old Japanese tradition of writing prayers or wishes on small wooden ‘ema’ plaques, which are often decorated with pictures and then hung at shrines. The most common wishes revolve around love, relationships, career success, academic achievement, health and prosperity.
Some of the messages read: “I hope to see you again soon”, “I love Belong” and “You will always be my friend”.
Children and residents added colourful pictures to their plaques before attaching them to the installation at the village. Afterwards, the children and residents enjoyed a picnic in the village and nursery’s shared garden.
Commenting on the day and the impact on children, Belgrave Primary School teacher Katie Buchanan said: “It was a wonderful opportunity to spend time with grandfriends in the local community. The children got a lot from our visit and are still talking about it.”
Intergenerational connections are a central feature of life at Belong Chester. The care village is the region’s first to integrate a children’s day nursery, and village and nursery teams working together to promote ground-breaking multi-generational approaches. There is growing evidence that these are changing the lives of both young and old for the better. Parents of children attending the nursery report significant advances in their vocabulary, language and social and emotional skills, and residents comment that having a role in the children’s development gives them a new sense of purpose and meaning.