Youth and seniors bond at Sedgebrook

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Ryan Springer
Ryan Springer

When students in a social emotional learning program at Meridian Middle School in Buffalo Grove, IL were asked what they would like to do for others, they chose working with seniors. In late May, 45 of these 10- and 11-year-old students brought six activity stations here to Sedgebrook in Lincolnshire.

At these stations, our residents could learn, create, play games, and share stories with the youngsters. Students chose activities such as board games, card games, bookmark making, technology, a spring mural, and flower pen decorating. It was fantastic. The kids were a delight to be around, and our residents had a lot of fun comparing what they did and knew as children with what the students do and know. Automobiles were just coming into being when some of our residents were young; now every kid knows how to use a computer.At the technology station, students and seniors were eager to explore the capabilities of the iPad together.

The teachers that facilitated the activities agreed with me that everyone got so much out of the day. They said the students just loved teaching and working with our residents and getting such positive feedback and appreciation from them. It was an amazing experience to witness.

Two days later, Girl Scouts from Daniel Wright Junior High in Lincolnshire, IL joined our residents in planting flowers in Sedgebrook's community garden. For several years, we've worked with troop leaders to organize intergenerational events, such as game nights, holiday caroling, and spring planting. Coached by our staff, residents showed the Girl Scouts how to plant the raised beds. We asked the students to put down their electronic devices and have actual conversations, and the students found it fun and great that our residents were willing to help and chat about their interesting stories. There were about five seniors and 20 scouts working together, and the garden looks beautiful.

What is even more beautiful is the continued relationship of the local community with our residents. We have been working together for several years, and it is wonderful to see familiar faces when we get together. One of our residents is a crossing guard at Daniel Wright School, and another is the grandmother of a “retired” Girl Scout. Both of these events were great opportunities for the residents and students to learn from one another. It was very heartwarming to see the dynamic between them and we look forward to future get-togethers.

Ryan Springer is the Sedgebrook community resources coordinator. Sedgebrook is a continuing care retirement community in Lincolnshire, IL, owned by Senior Care Development LLC, and managed by Life Care Services LLC.

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