Objects have the power to carry and evoke strong emotions.
That’s why the Treasured Possessions project is being run to help reduce social isolation for seniors in regional New South Wales.
The program run by the University of Sydney Node of the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for the History of Emotions (CHE), is modelled on the highly successful Love in Objects project run in London in 2014.
Treasured Possessions will see seniors and community members from Dapto and neighbouring suburbs in Wollongong come together to reflect on the emotional value of their own precious keepsakes – from war medals and photographs, to family heirlooms and cherished childhood toys.
Project founder and University of Sydney researcher Dr Kimberley-Joy Knight said the project aimed to increase the quality of life of older Australians living in Dapto, an area with a significant number of people at risk of social isolation.
‘’Dapto is ranked in the bottom 25 percent of the ABS’s Socio-Economic Index for Areas, which is below the regional, state and Australian averages for disadvantage by area. Furthermore, 10 percent of households in Dapto are occupied by ‘lone older persons’ (aged 65 and older), which is again above the state and national averages,’’ she said.
‘’The core aim of this project is to reduce this isolation by fostering positive emotional experiences and memories, and creating a social environment where people from different cultures and backgrounds can share their life experiences.’’
The eight-week project will also incorporate museum visits, talks from historians and curators, and memoir writing and photography classes designed to encourage participants to connect with the past and with others in the community.
It will culminate in a multimedia exhibition of treasured possessions and stories created by the participants and open to the public.
Dr Knight said the project shares the valuable knowledge of older Australians with their communities.
‘’Unlike other projects, this program has been designed with sustainability in mind, creating the potential for a lasting contribution to many communities where seniors can feel engaged in history and valued as sources of knowledge and life experience,’’ she said.
Participants can register until the project start date, April 13 by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or calling Dr Knight on 0432 851 563.
‘’We hope that through the exhibition and publication of memoirs, we can show how seniors are a valuable source of knowledge and have much to offer Australian communities,’’ she said.