Intergenerational program a ‘win-win’
The Grade 5 and 6 class at Rhema Christian School in Peterborough has developed a partnership with Riverview Manor, a nearby long-term care home, that’s proving to be beneficial for everyone.
Since February, Rhema students and Riverview Manor residents have shared visits and engaged one another in a myriad of activities. To wrap up the school year, the Rhema invited residents and staff members from the Peterborough long-term care home to a June 16 barbecue.
“We just wanted to figure out a way that we could be a blessing to them,” says teacher Paul Voskamp, who spearheaded the partnership.
“It’s a great opportunity for the students to interact with people outside of our (school) community, we are always looking for ways for our school to connect with the greater community so this is definitely been a very good event for that,” he says.
The visits are called a CHARM afternoon, an acronym for Children Helping at Riverview Manor. Voskamp says when the students have visited the long-term care home they are told by staff at Riverview Manor that interest starts to stir among the residents, and the day they arrive the energy level triples.
“We would just hang out, build relationships with them, do some crafts and activities, play games with them — just total interaction,” says Voskamp.
The intergenerational program is beneficial for the seniors who enjoy visiting with the children as many have grandchildren who live a distance away.
The students have been excited about the different conversations they have had with the residents, coming away realizing that seniors are cool people, he says.
Megan, a Grade 5 student, says she enjoys visiting with the residents because “it brightens their day and it’s letting them know that people really care.”
Sherry Baldwin, the life enrichment co-ordinator at Riverview Manor, says from the home’s perspective the most exciting part of the partnership is the interaction with the children, adding that intergenerational events act as vehicles to help break down barriers between age groups.
Principal Joel Slofstra says the partnership is a great opportunity for the students to interact with people outside of the school community and teaches the students about service.
“I think it’s helped the students be able to listen and interact with people they don’t know, I think it’s taught them valuable social skills as well,” says Slofstra. “I think it’s a win-win for both sides.”
Voskamp says the home has asked them to further develop the partnership for next year, and the school plans to ask the city for transportation funding for the visits.