UWA McCusker Centre for Citizenship student Tyana Orlando has travelled to regional WA to complete an internship project with “The Village”, an innovative social aging initiative based out of Wandering, Wickepin, Cuballing and Pingelly.
Tyana, who is studying Biomedical Science on a direct pathway to Medicine, completed the project at The Village through UWA’s McCusker Centre for Citizenship.
“The Village is a connection of over 75 members in the communities of Wandering, Wickepin, Cuballing and Pingelly who want to stay in their own home and community as they age. It brings all the benefits of a lifestyle or retirement village, without having to leave home,” explained Tyana.
“I worked with The Village as a community engagement intern, focused on activity and event coordination, which aims to reduce the physical and mental consequences that isolation and loneliness can have on seniors,” she said.
Tyana contributed over 100 hours to the role, during which she assisted the activities coordinators in the towns to plan social and physical activities including bingo, crop inspection bus tour and pub lunch, and a tour of the Kaolin mine.
“I also created an exercise program that I ran with ten ladies in Pingelly. I photographed these events and posted about them on Facebook, boosting social media engagement by over 1000%,” said Tyana.
Internship supervisor Helen Morton, who is the Project Officer for the Pingelly Somerset Alliance Virtual Village Hub, said Tyana’s assistance was “invaluable”.
“Tyana showed initiative, leadership and a willingness to act independently, travelling to Wickepin twice, Cuballing and Wandering to liaise with people,” said Helen.
“The people that Tyana connected with spoke highly of her interpersonal skills – especially her ability to chat comfortably with people of older ages. I would welcome Tyana back in a heartbeat in any capacity to assist us with this project,” said Helen.
Tyana said her experience with the regional internship was “extremely rewarding” and has shown her the immense value of stepping out of her comfort zone.
“The community spirit and welcoming nature of the towns was incredible. It was also rewarding to see firsthand the impact of my work on the community. Many residents of The Village commented on the importance of the social events in bringing the community together and reducing their loneliness and isolation,” she said.
“I recognise the importance of listening to the people and groups that I am working with, so that I can understand their experiences and how best to work with them,” she said.
As an aspiring medical professional, Tyana’s experience meeting and connecting with Pingelly residents also shone a light on the issues facing seniors in regional communities.
“I was confronted by the challenges that regional residents face in accessing health care, and the difficulties that many seniors have in navigating a world that is dependent on technology,” said Tyana.
Tyana recommends the McCusker Centre for Citizenship internship program to all UWA students and says the experience has solidified her aspirations to undertake regional placements as part of her upcoming medical studies.
“My eyes have been opened to the challenges that Western Australians are facing in their everyday lives and the privileges that I have. I have learnt that as an individual, I have a huge capacity to make positive changes for my neighbours and my community,” says Tyana.