School children in Weymouth are helping ‘at risk’ senior citizens get active and beat loneliness.

Pupils at Bincombe Valley Primary School and The Wey Valley Academy have paired up with The Acorns Day Centre - which hosts older people with and without dementia.

Over 20 young people attend the centre once a week for musical warm up sessions, walks and Boccia - a sport similar to bowls that is played by wheelchair users.

The project has already seen several selective mutes at Acorns engage in conversation with the young people and be more motivated in the mornings to attend. They have also become more vibrant and physically active.

Charity the Youth Sport Trust described the Active Across Ages project as a way of bringing the two loneliest generations together through sport and physical activity.

The project is supported by doctors, with one Weymouth GP surgery even prescribing older adults at risk of loneliness regular walks with young people.

The Youth Sport Trust and its founder, Sir John Beckworth, wanted to create an initiative to tackle loneliness in the two most at-risk age groups.

After engaging with Public Health Dorset and a GP surgery in Weymouth, the charity said social prescriptions will include six park-walk sessions.

Rob Belbin, inclusion lead for Dorset, said: “The older people always look forward to the younger people coming in, which is just brilliant.

"I love the way that I have seen the children completely change their understanding about society.”

The Office of National Statistics revealed in 2018 that 14 per cent of ten-twelve -year-olds often felt lonely. Age UK reports there are 1.2 million chronically lonely older people within the UK.

Ali Goodall, development manager at the Youth Sport Trust, said: “Young people are telling us through the project they have a better understanding of older people’s needs and have developed how they see themselves and others."

Already the project has found that 40 per cent of the young people who took part felt Active Across Ages had helped them to feel less lonely, 69 per cent said it helped them to feel happier, and 61 per cent said it helped them to be more active.

For older people, the biggest observed benefit to date has been an increase in their overall wellbeing. It is the only opportunity that many of the participants get to spend time with children and young people.

For information visit


t: 01305 830984


twitter: @DorsetEchoEllie