When I was teaching elementary school music, I used to take the choir on a nursing home tour every Christmas and we would sing at the veterans' hospital on Veteran's Day. Those were some great memories...and not just because I loved the kids and seeing them do something good for someone else. I loved those awesome seniors that we were visiting too.
I grew up visiting my grandparents every week, usually on Sunday, and I can remember standing in our kitchen one Sunday when we were getting ready to make the drive to Durant. I was a teenager and was wanting to stay behind so I could hang out with my friends. My dad said something so profound, but of course I wouldn't fully understand until I was much older. He said, "One day you'll appreciate all of this time you're spending with your grandparents...and you'll wish you had more." Boy was he right. I miss my grandmother like no one else. When she left us, I felt like a part of me went with her. But I wouldn't trade one minute that I have spent with any of my grandparents and I know that it has shaped me into who I am today. I've been so lucky...and I still have my sweet Paw Paw (who I'm visiting this weekend! I can't wait!)
I have thought about how much I appreciate the time that I've had with all of my grandparents and realize that not every person has that luxury. Knowing how much it helped me makes me wish that I could give it to others. Now I'm not saying that I'm going to share my Paw Paw, but I think it would be great if we could plan some programs that incorporate seniors and kids working together on projects at the school. I know it would be good for the kids and I know it would be good for the seniors.
My friend Chandra has been so kind as to listen to all of my ideas and then shares things she finds online to support them. She told me about a nursing home in Jenks, Grace Living Center, that has put Kindergarten (and I think a Pre-K class too!) in their facility. State of Creativity on OETA had a spot about it last week, but I missed it. (So sad) I'm doing some research right now to find out about the results. I'm sure that it benefits both the kids and the seniors. It has to!
The EPA even has a page on their website that lists the benefits of intergenerational work. Check it out!
Finally, to support what I have been thinking all along, there is a TED talk that Genevieve sent James a while back and I thought that I would post it here. It's about people who live longer and their shared characteristics. I think it's brilliant. One of the things that it presents is the idea that people who not only live into old age, but that are happy, have significant connections with those in their families that are older and younger. I think they're on to something.
More than anything, I want people to remember that they are relevant and important and that they have something to contribute to this world at any age.