The football World Cup is currently taking place in Russia, and even though we might not all be supporting the same team, there is no doubting the power of sport in bringing people together. Studies also continue to highlight the benefits of intergenerational relationships; for example those shown in the recent BBC documentary The Toddlers Who Took on Dementia.
The benefits of reminiscence therapy in dementia care are well documented but the principles also apply to others too. Studies show an increase in communication levels, relief from boredom and depression, and increased self worth, all through talking about times past with others.
We learned about an event this week which combined the young and the old, sport and reminiscence. This was the first in a series of new events from the Maccabi GB Play On Programme and Sporting Memories, supporting older people across the UK living with dementia, depression or loneliness by engaging them in social activities and helping them to recall memories of watching or playing sport. Neil Taylor, Head of Sport & Community Partnerships at Maccabi GB said: “By sharing memories of sporting moments and tapping into a passion for sport we help people to connect with others and with their past, reawakening positive thoughts and feelings that otherwise remain hidden away.”
Year six children from a local school, the Independent Jewish Day School in Hendon, attended the event, hosted by Michael Sobell JCC in Golders Green. The day was billed as 1966 Day, with the children placed into groups with the older generation, to discuss their memories of this time. Each group was given the flag of a country and prompts were given to encourage discussion between young and old. For example; What language do they speak here? What is the capital city? Have you visited this country?
Class teacher Holli Hunter told us after the event that “Seeing the older generation speak with such energy and enthusiasm about their memories was so special. They all had a story to tell.”
Akiva, one of the children who attended the event said: “I liked learning what football was like back then, but also, what was worn. Everything was different! Even kit materials! I liked seeing the old tickets and programmes from the 1966 World Cup final.”
The day was a huge success (there was even enough time for a game of Boccia!) One visitor to the event brought his original tickets and programme from attending the World Cup Final at Wembley in 1966 along, which certainly drove some discussion between the attendees. Everyone enjoyed interacting with each other and left with a smile on their face, even those who were perhaps initially shy at the offset, once again highlighting the power of sport.
If you would like to learn more about reminiscence therapy in dementia care, you can read our article here.