It was sleek and black, with shiny chrome handles and a leather seat. It didn’t look like a wheelchair, more like a motorbike.
On its seat was an elderly gentleman, who guided it into the restaurant expertly.
McDonald’s Tuggeranong was busy that day with their Sunday Funday, so there were lots of children and families around. But the elderly man sat alone at a table in the corner.
Kulture Break was there, with their Elevate Academy dance and music crews, supporting McDonald’s Tuggeranong’s event. Given Kulture Break’s mission of fostering an inclusive and healthy community, we wanted to know more about this man.
His story was quite sad, as we found out.
John is 97. He has been coming to McDonalds Tuggeranong daily for a number of years, to have a cup of coffee and an apple pie.
He makes the journey alone, to and from Calwell, in an effort to get out of the house and see the world.
His wife passed away 17 years ago, he said, and all his friends have gone. He feels isolated, and out of touch with the modern word.
But he makes the trek to McDonalds every day, in pursuit of escape and activity.
His isolation struck a chord. Who could consider a life of such loneliness? We wanted to show John that we’d heard his story, and we cared.
Our Elevate Academy singers decided to play some songs just for him, to offer a human touch and to give him a sense of connection.
Accompanied by guitar, the kids sang two self-composed pieces, ‘Believe’ and ‘Let’s Dream’. Anyone who hears the songs understands the call to continue dreaming, believing and hoping for a better future.
Spending time with John was an experience that we hope builds character in our Elevate Academy students. Not only do we want to lift the music and dance skills of our cohort, we want them to become better people, and to contribute positively to society.
We hope to engage further with John in the future, and to continue to elevate the lives of not only Canberra’s youth, but also Canberra’s community!