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School scheme to boost volunteers over 60 is extended 

Research teams are now looking for more volunteers to help develop the study further.

Schools: Four West Lothian primary schools are taking part.
Schools: Four West Lothian primary schools are taking part. PA

By Kaye Nicolson

A research project which encourages over 60s to volunteer in West Lothian primary schools is being extended after its initial success.

The Generation of Generation scheme - led by the University of Strathclyde - aims to help older people between the ages of 60 and 85 keep physically and mentally fit, while giving extra support to pupils and teachers.

Research teams are now looking for more volunteers to develop the study further.

The adults go through tests to analyse how their work in the classroom impacts on their health. They'll fill out questionnaires and complete tasks which focus on abilities such as memory and attention before, during and after taking part in the project.

Four primary schools in West Lothian are running the study.

Volunteers at Our Lady of Lourdes Primary in Blackburn say their work is already having a positive impact on their own well-being.

'They're just so innocent and open and friendly - and one of the best things about the project is, it's a chance to meet other volunteers and enjoy the happy environment of the classroom.'
Volunteer Evelyn Gourlay

Retiree Evelyn Gourlay said: "They're just so innocent and open and friendly - and one of the best things about the project is, it's a chance to meet other volunteers and enjoy the happy environment of the classroom."

Juanita Allan who also volunteers said: "I know we're older but [the children] don't treat us like that. You're almost like a friend to them - it's much better than watching daytime TV."

Jane Reily, Our Lady of Lourdes acting headteacher, has found there are benefits for everyone involved - including improvements in confidence and development for the children.

She added: "To get that additional support from a different age group, a different generation, it's just good to see that with the children and the volunteers."

The study, by Strathclyde's School of Psychological Sciences and Health, aims to promote health and wellbeing in older adults, while also improving young children's attainment at school.

Previous experience of working in schools or with children is not needed.

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