Playgroup with a twist

31 May 2017

An unusual Oamaru playgroup celebrated its 23rd birthday in April, with people of all ages on hand to mark the occasion.

Iona Enliven care home in Oamaru hosts a playgroup for children in their chapel each Thursday. Parents bring their young ones along for fun and games, as well as reading and singing.

Established in 1994 to service the north end of Oamaru, the group gives Iona’s elderly residents the chance to interact with children, by watching them play or reading them stories.

Over a dozen children attend the playgroup each week, and this number has remained consistent since it was formed.

Anna Jamieson takes her one year old twins, Libby and Cooper, to the playgroup. Going to playgroup is extra special because her grandparents, Margaret and Garth McKenzie, are both Iona residents.


Diane McCone, Activities Coordinator at Iona, said the playgroup, which is funded by the Ministry of Education, was initially set up after discussions between local social workers and church groups, with the aim of fostering intergenerational contact between the home’s residents and children.

“It works really well,” she said. “I think it’s because most of the residents have children of their own; they can remember back to their childhoods and
baby days. It gives them something to look forward to and it’s a lot different to the run-of-the-mill stuff that happens in a rest-home.”

Originally published in Oamaru Mail, edited and used with permission