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Students and Seniors - Intergenerational program builds character

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Students with one of the crafts they made with residents.

The intergenerational program at Elmer Elson Elementary School in Mayerthorpe partners Grade 5 students with senior residents in the Auxiliary wing of the Mayerthorpe Health Care Centre.

Teacher, Leslie Cowley has been coordinating the program for eight years:

“The purpose of the program is to allow students and residents to interact and connect within a structured recreational setting.  The program connects to our Student Leadership program and curriculum aspects such as Health, Language Arts, Social Studies and Art, among others.  Students develop their conversation skills and develop empathy and compassion.  Many students blossom as they form friendships with the residents and learn to appreciate individuals in hospital settings.”

Typically, Cowley divides the year into two segments with one class taking the first half of the year and the other class going next.  This year there are 27 Grade 5 students participating.  In February, the Grade 4/5 class (25 students) will begin their session.  Each session begins with students reading to the residents followed by a craft where students are encouraged to have the residents participate as much as possible. After the craft, students play a game or engage in an activity that the Auxiliary has determined.  Each visit concludes with a good-bye song which students sing to the residents. 

In June, all the students are invited back to the facility for a year-end picnic. 

Cowley shares, “It's a great program and very vital to both my students and the residents. The residents can't wait to see the students (we go on a bi-weekly basis).  The kids are definitely a highlight of their day with many residents coming out to participate that normally do not participate in recreational activities.  It allows my students to shine in ways that are not attached to academics or a specific skill set such as hockey.  A great program - I can't imagine not continuing this partnership.”

Intergenerational Program at Elmer Elson

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