WODONGA teenager Melissa Meurant fusses around Flo Burr at Baranduda aged care home Westmont.
Mrs Burr, 89, was sitting in a walker in a room that only moments ago was filled with the singing of residents as part of a morning class.
The Yackandandah woman moved into Westmont in May after breaking two hips, thinking it would relieve the burden on her family.
She said Melissa was one of three special teenagers who were injecting a bit of sparkle into Westmont.
“We’re old and decrepit and they make us seem we’re not so old,” Mrs Burns said.
Melissa, 18, is one of three Wodonga teenagers who has taken a gap year to work at the home before going on to further study.
It’s a part of a program run by employment company Atel to link Border employees with young people for a year after high school.
Melissa has been working as a trainee aged care nurse along with Caitie Clarke, 19, who worked in administration and Bernie Miller, 17, employed in the home’s cafe for hospitality training.
All three say it has helped them decide on their futures — Melissa wants to study nursing, Caitie wants to study business and Bernie dreams of working on a cruise ship or running a busy cafe.
But, they said, the most rewarding part was the effect Westmont residents have had on them.
They formed attachments, were confronted with death and were taught about life.
“There are people here who worked in nursing during World War II,” Melissa said.
Caitie learned the names of every resident and their families and Bernie, the girls said, had everyone wrapped around his finger.
“You meet people who are amazing,” Melissa said.
Atel field officer Ashlea Jacobs said teenagers were placed in gap year programs in legal firms, schools and medical organisations across the Border.
All are on track to complete the traineeship and gain TAFE qualifications as part of it.