Pupils from Wildern School in Hedge End have been crowned winners of this year's Hampshire Schools' Challenge after impressing the judging panel at the final in Winchester on Friday 13 December.
This year's Challenge invited schools to submit projects which would provide social interaction for elderly members of the community and increase understanding between generations. Five schools were selected as finalists and received £250 to begin work on their projects, before presenting their progress and aspirations to the judging panel.
Second place went to Baycroft School for their series of social events including bingo and tea dances, whilst Swanmore College was placed third with the serenity garden. The other finalists were Fort Hill Community School which hopes to develop a theatre production about the 1960s, and Brune Park Community School who are producing DVD and book based memory experiences detailing lives of residents at a local retirement home.
The team of pupils representing Wildern School demonstrated that their project, which involves developing a how-to guide for modern technology as well as running technology training sessions for elderly members of the community, was both imaginative and practical. Judges agreed that the project would improve the lives of elderly residents by providing them with useful skills and opportunities for interaction via tools such as email and Skype. The pupils also demonstrated increased understanding between generations, as they discussed how spending time with elderly members of the community had altered their perceptions of elderly people and improved their communication skills. Wildern School will now receive a further £1000 to complete their project.
Councillor Roy Perry, Leader of Hampshire County Council, said "I was delighted to have the opportunity to hear the wonderful presentations from the five schools, and was very impressed by the high quality of work that has already been completed. Whilst there can only be one winner, I would like to congratulate all of the finalists on their innovative and diverse projects and wish them the best of luck as they continue working on them. With Hampshire facing an ageing population, projects such as these, which provide social interaction and leisure activities for elderly residents whilst helping them to remain active, are incredibly valuable and it is particularly inspiring to see Hampshire's young people showing enthusiasm and flair for improving the lives of elderly residents in their local community."
The Hampshire Schools' Challenge is set annually by the Leader of Hampshire County Council to encourage schools and their pupils to develop new projects which benefit the local community.