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Elders and students make contact
across the generational divide

April 5th, 2018

For some time, the General Manager for Points West Living Peace River has been pondering the best way to help residents avoid or alleviate boredom, loneliness, and helplessness. David Haastrup came to the conclusion that introducing more opportunities for residents to experience intergenerational connections would be a good first step. And so came about his collaboration with École Springfield School.

On your toes

When children are on the scene, you’ve got to be on your toes. You never know what they’re going to do or say next, and their sincerity and need for connection with caring adults make you realize you still have a lot to give.

Gladness on residents' faces

The first get-together was in early February when Grade 1 French Immersion students came with their teacher and wowed residents with French songs. “They went around giving Valentine cards to the residents,” says David, “and at the end of their visits, you could see gladness on the faces of the residents. One resident told me he had received eleven valentine cards and said, ‘I have never had so many before!’ Another resident was pleased to receive her valentine cards in her room as she was too tired to come out to the meet the children.”

To feel a touch, a handshake is a good feeling

The next visit was on February 28, when Grade 2 students came to read and write with residents. “Some residents guided the students with their reading and were quite impressed with their reading skills,” says David. “One of them, Mrs. Staicesku is a retired teacher, who was able to read, talk, and share ideas with the young students about the books they were reading. She told me it was gratifying to be with students again. She said ‘Teaching has been a way of life for me. To feel a touch, a handshake is a good feeling for the elderly.’”

Pink Shirt Day

The day was also Canada’s anti-bullying Pink Shirt Day, and the students all wore pink T-shirts. David donned one too, and says residents noted the colour and told him it looked good on him.

Students from École Springfield School are now scheduled to come to PWL Peace River every second Wednesday until the end of their school year. Residents are already looking forward to those visits.

Fulfilling 'Principle 2'

David points out that this inter-generational interaction supports the second of the Ten Principles of Eden: An Elder-centered community commits to creating a human habitat where life revolves around close and continuing contact with plants, animals, and children. It is these relationships that provide the young and old alike with a pathway to a life worth living.

Photo: Resident Noella Fillion and a Grade 2 student from École Springfield School share a book at PWL Peace River.

More Photos at Flickr: Elders and students make contact across the generational divide 

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