Two very different groups of Ballarat residents are forming a unique bond that sees both sides learning and helping one another.
Pinarc Disability Services, which recently moved in to the former Golden Point Primary School, has allowed University of the Third Age to take up residence in one of the school rooms and the community shed outside, marking a return to the site for the group.
And in doing so, Pinarc clients will be able to access some of the U3A courses and the knowledge of its participants, and U3A members are keen to volunteer and build relationships with the clients.
U3A president Jack Engwerda said the group would run many different courses at the site, and suggested to Pinarc executive director Marianne Hubbard that clients would be welcome too.
“We said to bring some of their people in and let them have a look. We want to have a relationship with them and we’ve got a lot to offer with our retired experience,” Mr Engwerda said.
At one stage U3A had plans to buy the former Golden Point Primary School, which closed in 1993, but a receiver’s offer to the group was withdrawn and it was put on the market.
“We put in a tender and (were unsuccessful) but as soon as we heard Pinarc had it we congratulated them and asked if we could lease back one or two rooms and the shed out the back,” he said.
Within weeks of U3A’s return to the site, members have already volunteered to help with Pinarc programs including their Sailability sessions on Lake Wendouree.
Ms Hubbard said the relationship between the two groups was exciting.
“The benefit is that we are connecting with members of the community. U3A members are usually retired people with a diverse and broad range of skills so we are hoping, as we settle in, to connect with some of them and get them involved with some of the work we are doing and sharing their skills with people with disabilities,” Ms Hubbard said.
“As they come to class they are just in the building alongside people with disabilities, and even that is raising awareness of the skills that people with disabilities have and the interests they have.”