Best of friends

Pro­gram builds friend­ships be­tween young and old

The Gulf News (Port aux Basques) - - Front Page - BY DANETTE DOO­LEY SPE­CIAL TO TC ME­DIA danette@nl.rogers.com

Stu­dents and se­niors in Bur­geo en­joy spend­ing time to­gether.

Stu­dents and staff at Bur­geo Acad­emy have found a unique way to spend qual­ity time with lo­cal se­niors.

The school started its Adopt a Grand­par­ent Pro­gram about three years ago.

Stu­dents from the all grade school spend one af­ter­noon a month in­ter­act­ing with peo­ple at the South West Se­niors Com­plex.

The ini­tia­tive came about when the com­plex’s jan­i­tor San­dra Bil­lard — who also works at the school — ap­proached the school’s guid­ance coun­sel­lor Ruby Pen­ney to see if a pro­gram could be es­tab­lished be­tween the school and the se­niors’ com­plex.

“San­dra de­vel­oped a re­la­tion­ship with the se­niors. They have a lot go­ing on at the com­plex but San­dra felt it would be nice for our kids to visit them and do some ac­tiv­i­ties,” Pen­ney said.

Pen­ney and Bil­lard then came up with the Adopt a Grand­par­ent Pro­gram.

The pro­gram runs from Oc­to­ber to June. Each month a dif­fer­ent grade will visit the se­niors. All stu­dents from Kinder­garten to Grade Twelve will take part at some point.

The teach­ers ac­com­pany the stu­dents on the out­ing. Bar­bie Co­ley, a par­ent vol­un­teer, is im­por­tant to the pro­gram.

“Bar­bie will gage the ac­tiv­ity de­pend­ing on the level of the stu­dents and the se­niors. She helps the teach­ers pre­pare the lessons. She does any cut­ting or past­ing or pre-work that needs to be done,” Pen­ney said.

Co­ley also en­sures that the se­niors and stu­dents are served re­fresh­ments dur­ing their get­to­geth­ers.

They do an hour of ac­tiv­ity then there’s a half-hour or 45 min­utes for hav­ing a lunch.

Bil­lard is also a great help, Pen­ney said, as she sets up the room and helps in what­ever way she can.

“The (school) bus brings the kids up. The (school) bus brings the kids back. They have a load of fun,” Pen­ney said.

Pen­ney over­sees the pro­gram. Plenty of pic­tures are taken dur­ing the out­ings, she said.

She then up­loads a slideshow of the ac­tiv­i­ties on the school’s chan­nel 62.

“The par­ents get to see it, the se­niors get to see them­selves, and the kids get to see it. I also print off a copy of all the pic­tures and give them to San­dra,” Pen­ney said. “She puts (these) on the wall in the se­niors’ com­mon room.”

The school’s mu­sic teacher, Cather­ine Rogers, also par­tic­i­pates in the pro­gram. She’s taken her pi­ano and they’ve had a singa-long. This De­cem­ber past she took the choir there and every stu­dent played their solo on pi­ano and they sang songs.

While the se­niors love hav­ing the chil­dren visit them, Pen­ney said, the chil­dren are also learn­ing a great deal from their in­ter­ac­tion with res­i­dents at the com­plex.

“The kids are learn­ing about re­spect and em­pa­thy from this pro­gram,” she said. “And over the years since we’ve been do­ing this pro­gram, we’ve had a few se­niors who have passed away.

“We didn’t re­al­ize the con­nect­ed­ness the kids had with these se­niors. Some of the kids were so dis­traught when they heard they’d passed away.”

Seven- year- old Sum­mer Durn­ford is a Grade Two stu­dent at Bur­geo Acad­emy. She looks for­ward to her time with the se­niors.

She she likes help­ing out the older peo­ple, she said.

“We do Hal­loween crafts and Christ­mas Crafts and Valen­tine crafts. We do all dif­fer­ent kinds of crafts and we play games and sing songs. It’s fun for the se­niors and for us,” Sum­mer said.

CON­TRIB­UTED PHOTO

In Oc­to­ber stu­dents from the Grade 2 and 3 classes and the se­niors dressed in cos­tumes for a Hal­loween party.

CON­TRIB­UTED PHOTO

Grade 12 stu­dents vis­ited the se­niors at the home in Novem­ber, and they spent time mak­ing Re­mem­brance Day book­marks with plas­tic can­vas.

CON­TRIB­UTED PHOTO

Dur­ing their visit in Jan­uary, stu­dent from the Grade 4 and 5 classes made a pen­guin craft with the se­niors.

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