NEW GLASGOW — Grades seven and eight students from Dr. W.A. MacLeod Consolidated School have visited residents of Glen Haven for three sessions as part of their school’s exploratory program.
Teacher Michael McPherson, who co-ordinates the visits for the students, is enthusiastic about the benefits of the Thursday afternoon visits for both the students and the residents. McPherson says he has observed the residents of Glen Haven during the fun-filled atmosphere created during the visits, and it is obvious they are having a good time. He explains with pride that because of the interaction with the residents, these outings give students an opportunity to have additional positive, enriching experiences beyond the classroom.
It is evident by the twinkle in their eyes, the conversations taking place and the smiles all round at the outings that the students agree and have come to look forward to them. Jonathon Waller, a Grade 8 student, says he signed up for the exploratory Socializing with Seniors program because he wanted to meet a variety of residents at Glen Haven Manor, spend time with them, share in conversation and interact through a variety of activities. He enjoys playing BINGO with the residents the most. He explains that he especially liked one woman at his table who always enjoys the game a lot.
Grade 7 student Sydney Battist says she had “a lot of fun hanging out with the seniors and helping them out with the games and crafts” that are experienced during their Thursday afternoons together. She enjoys the set up time and time between BINGO games that allows the students and residents at her table to engage in little conversations. She describes the residents as “really nice” and says they welcome she and her classmates into their Glen Haven home, making the students feel “at home and comfortable.” Interacting with the seniors reminds Sydney of time spent with her own grandparents from her mother’s side of the family.
“I find the students have a natural respect for elders and I see the residents enjoying the time with the children as a way to share their knowledge, reconnect with youthful memories and just enjoy being around kids,” adds McPherson. He recalls his own special memories of his grandmother teaching him how to fish and he sees how well the students respond to sharing their own memories and experiences with grandparents with these older residents.
“For those who have lost grandparents or who have grandparents who live outside the area, it provides the chance to get to know an older generation. And even for those students who are fortunate enough to have lots of time with grandparents, they still appreciate the chance to socialize with the residents and to get to know them and their life stories personally,” he says.
“This program gives kids opportunities that are difficult to fit into hectic family schedules after school,” McPherson adds. “We see students really blossom and shine through the exploratory visits. It opens up a new side of them.”
McPherson says this program allows students to represent themselves and their school with pride as goodwill ambassadors. “This, in turns, builds confidence and develops positive leadership qualities.”
Glen Haven CEO Lisa M. Smith concurs that the residents love the recreational time spent with the students. “Our residents always enjoy visits and interactions with children and youth and this program is one that gives them a chance for both socializing and fun activities. The grades 7s and 8s add vitality and interesting conversations and the exchange is a great one. Our residents give the youth quality time with an older generation that enriches their learning and growth, while connecting multi generations and building a stronger community.”
Abby Conrad, left, and Sydney Battist, students at Dr. W. A. Consolidated School, are pictured with Glen Haven resident Edith Blakeney as they enjoy playing bingo together as part of the school’s exploratory program, Socializing with Seniors. (Photo by Kimberly Dickson)