By LeRae Haynes
A unique and innovative program is scheduled to launch in Octoberâa partnership between Cataline Elementary School and the Williams Lake Seniors Village. For four weeks this fall, Steve Dickensâ Grade 6/7 students will attend classes at the Village in an âinter-generational immersionâ program.
(Grade 6/7 teacher Steve Dickens presented the inter-generational learning program to parents and students.)
Cataline School Principal Mike Grace and Steve Dickens, along with Village Activities Coordinator Janet Catalano and General Manager Elaine Wright, and School District Principal Jerome Beauchamp met with parents, teachers and students at Cataline last week to discuss the project.Â Â
Mike Grace showed a short film about a school in Vernon that ran an inter-generational learning program with a local senior facility. Teachers, students and seniors in the film all commented on the challenges they faced, the expectations that were exceeded and the immense benefits of the partnership to students and seniors alike.Â
The concept will be adapted for the local partnership between Cataline and the Seniors Village.
During the month of October Grade 6/7 kids from Cataline will go to school in the morning and walk to the Williams Lake Seniors Village with their teacher, where they will spend the day. Principal Grace addressed safety issues with the assembled group, assuring parents that their kidsâ safety, and the safety of the seniors involved, is of paramount importance.
He explained that the students will be supervised at all times, that there will be a âbuddy systemâ in place and that there will be guidelines in place for student behaviour while at the Village.
âWhen I first heard about this program I thought it was fantastic,â he said. âSeniors often see negative things about kids when they get in trouble--what a great way to increase empathy and understanding going both ways.â
He said that this program is a way to take the lives of the students and the lives of the seniors and meld them together, and that itâs great to see a way for kids to âget outside themselvesâ and increase their understanding of others.
âSocial responsibility is a huge goal for the School District,â Steve Dickens added.
The students will have their own area set up at the Seniors Village for classes, and will have activities planned with seniors throughout the day.
The program will run from October 6 to November 4, and another three weeks in May. The students will also visit the Village one day a month during the time theyâre not on site, and the seniors may make visits to the school as well.
While the students are set up at the Village there will be guest speakers once a week, talking about things like Alzheimerâs and dementia. Â At the meeting at Cataline it was suggested that Wendy Stasica from the Hospice Society be invited to talk to the students.
The kids will participate with the seniors in activities like spelling bees and will share information on current technology like ipods, cell phones and laptops. They will carve pumpkins together and can play Wii games. The seniors can watch the kids put on classroom presentationsâcan be an audience or can choose to participate---and sometimes the students and the seniors will watch an event together.
There is a calendar for the program, created by Janet Catalano, Mike Grace and Steve Dickens. âThe Activities staff will come every day and take six kids at a time to interact with seniorsâthey can play checkers, bocce ball, noodle hockey, and maybe weâll go for a drive,â Janet said. âThere will be a Halloween party every day during the last week.â
âWe are definitely asking for parental support in this,â Steve Dickens said. âThe education of your sons and daughter is best done as a team and we love your participation.â
Parents and kids were invited to come in ahead of time for a tour of the facilities. âThis will be so beneficial for our seniors and staff, and for the students,â Janet Catalano stated. âSeniors have a lot to offer and kids can learn what wonderful people they are.âÂ
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