Every resident who joins Brookside Care Centre gets their own personal rock, brightly painted, it sits proudly on a rockery in the front garden, adorned with their name.

An increase in residents over recent months means that there is now a lot to be done to maintain this tradition, so the children of Forest and Sandridge School have stepped in to help.

Now regular visitors to Brookside, there is little trepidation remaining for the pupils aged between six and nine, even with an audience of residents surrounding them, they jump straight in. They donned plastic aprons and crowded around the table. Selecting the most vivid colours the children worked in pairs to brighten up the dull grey stones.

Whilst watching the children paint,  you could see their surroundings disappear as they sunk ever deeper into their imaginations. One young man remarked that he, “could do this all day”.  One particularly thoughtful boy decided that he was painting a rock for Eileen, the resident sat behind him. After completing each section of the rock, he turned around to get Eileen’s input. “What colour would you like next?”, the young boy enquired. Eileen chose purples and blues, willingly painted on by the boy and his partner. “They’re doing ever so well”, Eileen remarked to fellow resident Victor who sat next to her.

The rocks on the right side of the table began to resemble the colours of a galaxy, with purples, blues and greens swirling together in a very organic way. The rocks on the left side of the table had more structure and definition with blocks of colour and clearly defined edges.

Excited about their creations the children, supported by their teacher, used their iPad to take pictures of the creations so they could show their classmates back at school. Victor was obviously intrigued by the iPad and one young lady stopped and took a moment to show him the pictures they had taken, asking Vvictor “which one is your favourite?” Victor remarked that he “couldn’t possibly choose as they were all fantastic”.

The children went out to explore the garden and one young boy asked his teacher, “Is this like a hotel?”.. The teacher explained that it was like a hotel, but a special hotel for people who are a bit older. The young man thought that was fantastic. The children enjoyed the sights, sounds and smells in the garden. They stopped to pat Rufus the visiting PAT dog. They loved looking at the guinea pigs – paddle and creek and one of the cats, Smokey. They also spent some time in the greenhouse guessing the vegetables and they explored the herb garden.

Before long the shutters opened as the canteen prepared to serve lunch. As a thank you for the children’s hard work. Brookside prepared an American style lunch of burgers and pizzas in recognition of American Independence Day, which the children thoroughly enjoyed.

Residents and children alike will both look forward to their next visit.