As part of our February newsletter theme of celebrating relationships within our charity, we wanted to shine a light on our Intergenerational Table Tennis programme. The programme brings together young people from our disability programmes and the ‘”over 55’s” from our Walking Sports programmes to have fun, improve mental and physical health and exchange skills through playing table tennis.
We have interviewed two members of the programme who attend the weekly Friday sessions. The first interviewee is Peter (70), a regular member of our Walking Sports programme and a familiar face at our Change Foundation home centre. Peter coached a table tennis team in his 20’s and would play in his local league in Croydon. It has been a joy for him to play table tennis again and he gets immense pleasure in using his own experiences to support other participants on the programme. Peter shared: “I rescued my trusty old bat from the attic and before I knew it all the reasons why I love the sport came flooding back to me!’
“I get great pleasure in sharing my skills to help people of all ages see the sport as something more than just ping-pong but rather a great way to exercise the mind and body.” Peter and other members of our Walking Sports programme have made a tremendous improvement to the social development and skill level of our younger table tennis participants.
The second interviewee is Rosina (21), a dedicated participant of our charity’s Girls Win and London Futures programmes. Rosina joined The Change Foundation in 2018 after being referred by her friend. Despite being on two programmes already, Rosina was eager to fit a third sports programme into her busy schedule. When asked why she joined the programme Rosina shared: “I became hooked on the idea of bringing people who are younger and older together to enjoy the benefits of playing sports whilst gaining different skills along the way!’
“Becoming part of this inclusive community has helped with my confidence and opened my mind to grabbing hold of new opportunities. Being a part of The Change Foundation and the table tennis programme reminds me of my passion for sports and fitness.”
Whilst table tennis actively improves the physical health of players, our coaches have witnessed a major benefit of the programme as being the development of rooted friendships between the different generations. For young people like Rosina who lack confidence when learning a new sport, the patience provided by the older generation creates a safe, welcoming and positive environment for them to develop. Rosina shared: “When I started the programme, I was not confident, but after weeks of learning and getting great tips from experienced players in their 70s I became very confident and very good at it!”
Comparatively, the programme also gives the older generation an opportunity to improve their fitness, improve own health and coordination and share their own memories and experiences with the younger generation. Peter shared: “The Change Foundation programmes have changed my life! Cricket on Mondays, football on Wednesdays and now table tennis on Fridays. I even cycle to The Change Foundation which has really increased my fitness and best of all, I have lost 2 stone in weight!’
“Another major benefit is that I have met many new people both old and young which I would never have done otherwise and that has brightened my life immensely”.
We are always welcoming new members to our Table Tennis programme which runs 10:15am – 11:30am every Friday at our home centre with refreshments and chat afterwards. If you are either over-55 or under-25 years old, please feel free to join us! There are plenty of teachers and novices around to support you and the equipment is provided… unless you’re like Peter and have your own bat waiting to be rediscovered in the attic!
For more information on our intergenerational table tennis programme and how to get involved, please contact Ryan.