I volunteer with a program called Words on Wheels (WOW). It’s a program run through my local library service and is staffed by volunteers.
WOW is all about bringing stories, entertainment and discussions to aged care facilities. We have numerous kits that are based around a particular theme. Each kit has a collection of short stories, poems, song lyrics, jokes, trivia and other activities.
The whole purpose of the program is to bring the outside world into aged care facilities. It was found that many of the residents were losing touch with the world as it exists around them. They were also losing touch with their own pasts as they became more focussed on the day to day living within the facility.
With WOW we use the kits to generate discussions and get the residents to connect. The whole purpose is to get people talking. It doesn’t matter if we stick to the topic or not; and we usually don’t.
I have been participating both in researching and editing the kits and also as a presenter. I visit an aged care facility once a month with my kit and whatever props I can find.
For my next session I am using a kit titled “Anyone for Cake?”. As a prop I have made these cupcakes for each of the people in my group. As many cannot eat sugar, these are each made of face washers. I will give them to the residents as a gift.
I didn’t realise how much I would love volunteering. Not only do you feel great knowing that a little bit of your time has brought joy to someone else’s life, I have also grown and learnt so much from the program.
WOW has brought out my creativity. I love finding stories and jokes to add to the kits. I have expanded my literary knowledge and found some fantastic websites as a result.
I also love designing fun activities and props to take to the sessions. It has really got me thinking about different crafts that I can get into.
I was very hesitant when I first signed up. I thought that the generation gap between me and the residents would make the sessions a challenge.
I couldn’t be more wrong. They don’t want me to be perfect. The just love to have a chat.
The residents have taught me so much. Through our conversations I have gained an insight into life when they were growing up. It has been wonderful to go back in time with them and relive games, activities and events of their era.
All in all I have found the experience to be very uplifting. I even enjoy it more than eating cake and it’s much healthier!
If anyone is interested in learning more about the program you can visit this website http://yprl.vic.gov.au/about/careers-and-volunteering/volunteering/wow.