NINE decades separate the participants of a Teesside yoga class – as elderly care home residents and babies as young as six weeks come together for the sessions.
Kalma Life, a Teesside-based children’s yoga group, has been running the class at Ingleby Care Home, on Lamb Lane, Ingleby Barwick.
Residents over 90 years of age have been among those participating alongside the youngsters and their parents – which sees them stretching, chatting, and playing together.
The sessions have been organised in conjunction with Teesside Dementia Link Services, which provides support to those with dementia and their carers in the area.
The Kalma Baby yoga classes last took place at Ingleby Care Home in 2019, before the covid-19 pandemic, when they proved a huge success for both groups, providing a wide-range of therapeutic benefits.
Resident Edith Hook, 90, was among the participants. She said: “I only had one son so it definitely takes me back to when he was little.
“He’s living in America now. But I was lucky enough to look after my granddaughter and help with my gorgeous little grandson.”
Fellow resident Nova Smith, 85, said: “I love when all the babies come in to see us. I get really excited when I see them come in.
“We’ve seen Charlotte grow so much already in the sessions we’ve had and to see her trying to crawl is really cute. When I got to hold Matthew it just took me back to when my children were that little.”
Lisa Aaron, from Kalma Life Teesside, runs the classes at Ingleby Care Home. She said: “We restarted our intergenerational yoga classes with Teesside Dementia Link Services in the community, after the pandemic, and were thrilled when Hill Care’s Ingleby Care Home was able to open their doors to embrace classes again.
“The classes are often emotional and humbling as the benefits are clear to see in the smiles of parents, babies and residents alike. We have found that the joy of the babies visiting their older friends has a lasting effect.
“One service user said that the happy ripples are seen for days afterwards. We also get to see a huge increase in residents’ physical activity, as they join in and encourage the little ones, and loneliness and social boundaries are broken down as parents and residents create new connections.”
One of the parents who took part added: “The way our babies’ faces light up when they see their older friends is really a sight to behold. The whole class feels like an extended family get together.
“Residents have said that Monday is now their favourite day of the week because they get to see “their babies”.
“One resident gave an impromptu speech at the graduation class, where she thanked every parent for bringing their bundles of joy to bring smiles to everyone’s faces, and we closed the class by passing around a sleeping six-week-old baby boy – a highlight for all the residents.”
Kirsty O’Connor, activities coordinator at Ingleby Care Home, said: “I love when we get to bring the two generations together.
“The residents thought it was nursery children when I first told them, as we are used to working alongside the schools, but their faces when the little babies came to visit were a picture.
“Residents loved joining in with nursery rhymes and the actions of the yoga from their chairs. It was just brilliant.”