Age is no boundary for Christmas cheer sharing, and also offers an opportunity for learning and relationship building for all.
Dressed as cowboys, reindeer, or Santa Claus, Grade 3 students from W. L. McLeod Elementary performed a Christmas musical skit to senior residents at the Stuart Nechako Manor on Dec. 3.
It’s one of the class’s monthly visits to the facility as an intergenerational program, said Marnie Bell, Stuart Nechako Manor’s recreation therapist.
Started last year, the project creates relationships, as it not only teaches the students about the elderly, but also brings a normal atmosphere to the seniors’ home, Bell said.
“For the kids who don’t have grandparents around and for seniors who don’t have grandkids around,” she said. “It benefits both the seniors and the kids.”
The manor’s residents would, in turn, also visit the class later in the school year, Bell added
“Over the course of the year you see [the students] developing their skills,” she said. “In the beginning they are scared and shy.”
Along with another elementary class which visits Riverside Place, the intergenerational program allows residents to teach the students conversation skills, said Patty Borek, Grade 3 teacher of W. L. McLeod Elementary.
“It’s interesting,” Borek said. “Conversation is a lost art.”
She added, “The residents are so generous in teaching them conversation skills.”
Through the monthly chats, students also learned about the history of Vanderhoof, as they often returned to class speaking about the information they learned, Borek said.
“Things like ‘before the dam was built, we had a big sturgeon here,’” Borek explained. “It makes the history of Vanderhoof real for them.”
The students also made Christmas-themed placemats and home-baked cookies as gifts, and received a world atlas from resident Patricia Burgener in return.
The gift is for the children’s curiosity, Burgener said.
“The back of it is full of information,” she said. “Maybe a little over their heads.”
For student Dakota Poole, the best part of the monthly visits is having fun, she said.
“We make crafts and play games,” Poole said.