Grade 3 students at Brantford Christian School (BCS) have been visiting seniors at St. Joseph’s Lifecare Centre, and recently surprised their ‘grandpals’ with flowers and crafts during the local Random Acts of Kindness Day Nov. 12.
BCS visits the seniors through its involvement with the Seniors and Kids Intergenerational Programs (SKIP), a local organization that through its school visitation programs brings together elementary school students and seniors who live in nursing homes.
Heather Murray, BCS vice-principal, says in addition to the SKIP program the visits are also part of the school’s Good Neighbour campaign activities. An initiative of the Ontario Alliance of Christian Schools (OACS), the Good Neighbour campaign encourages member schools to increase their profiles by organizing and participating in events to serve the local community.
Murray was approached by the founder of SKIP several years ago about participating in the program.
“We tried it for that first year and I would create a craft and they would go over and make the craft with them and it was highly successful, it was really a great outreach not just for the school to do but it just had a great impact on the students themselves so I was sold on it,” says Murray.
The class visits the long-term care home each month, and as part of Brantford Community Foundation’s Random Acts of Kindness Day during the recent visit they gave the seniors a flower donated by a local flower shop and made Christmas cards for the seniors to give to their loved ones.
The students were welcomed by Rogers Cable TV and Captain Kindness during the visit and asked about what kindness means to them.
BCS parent Claudia Carlton is also a board member for SKIP, and says the seniors were very excited to see the students during the visit.
“The seniors line up and wait for the kids, they are so excited to see them,” says Carlton.
She says both the seniors and children benefit from the program.
The children benefit from learning about respect and how to talk to seniors, she says, noting some students do not have grandparents or do not get to see them on a regular basis.
Many of the seniors enjoy being visited by the children, and feel valued when sharing their stories and connecting with the kids, she adds.
“It’s a nice program to bridge the generation (gap),” says Carlton.
“It’s absolutely perfect for Good Neighbour because we do go monthly, it’s not a one-shot deal, it’s for the whole year and by June the kids are running in there, running to their favourite senior and know them all by name and they are much more comfortable, so you can see a huge difference from September to June,” Carlton says.
“It’s just a fantastic program.”
Each grade at BCS is involved in a Good Neighbour Campaign activity, with several working with different community groups such as the Salvation Army and local animal shelter.