Forest Glade School student Mira Krndija, 6, shares a laugh while playing a guessing game with Evelyn Talbot, 94, a resident at the Riverside Place Long Term Care Home on Thursday, May 30, 2019. They’re participating in a school enrichment program that allows youngsters and seniors to spend time together.
Dan Janisse / Windsor Star
Seven-year-old Nasrallah Gharabulli is good at checkers but said he was going easy on his smiling friend Thursday morning at Riverside Place Long Term Care Home.“I know her name. It’s Elizabeth,” he said as he helped her plan the next move.The match was one of many games of Uno, Connect Four, Snakes and Ladders and even a math quiz being played between the senior Riverside Place residents and Grade 1 and 2 students from Forest Glade Public School. The class has been visiting the home off Lauzon Road once a month through a not-for-profit program called SKIP (Seniors and Kids Intergeneration Program) and Thursday was the last visit of the school year.As the class said goodbye with hugs all around, Gharabulli moved from wheelchair to wheelchair to put his arm around each resident.“I get to make to make new friends and also play with them,” said the Grade 2 student of what he liked best about the visits. “It’s like they’re my best friends, part of my family.”SKIP started in Brantford and retired teacher Val Houston introduced the idea to Windsor. The Windsor program expanded from two classes to 15 classes from seven different schools this year. The public board pays for the transportation.They just bring life into the residents. The smiles. Oh, it’s amazingMalek Chaouali, the Grade 1 and 2 French Immersion teacher at Forest Glade Public School, has seen amazing things from the hour-long SKIP visits. One child was so shy he hid behind a couch at first but later couldn’t wait to see the residents again. The children have learned to introduce themselves, talk louder if needed, and help get the lids off the markers when they colour together.“The reluctant readers are now reading to all the seniors they can get a hold of,” Chaouali said.
Forest Glade School grade 2 student Nasrallah Gharabulli reads a book with Elizabeth Braun, a resident at the Riverside Place on Thursday, May 30, 2019. It is part of a school enrichment program that allows youngsters and seniors to spend time together.
Dan Janisse /
“The kids are fabulous,” said Nancy Barlow, a 67-year-old resident with purplish dyed hair who had a swarm of students around her Thursday morning.She laughed as she said it was a bit chaotic during the first visit but now she looks forward to seeing them. “The old people have a lot to learn from children just like the children have a lot to learn from old people,” Barlow said.Colleen Lauzon, an activation aide at Riverside Place, said the residents love the students. “They just bring life into the residents. The smiles. Oh, it’s amazing,” Lauzon said.Emily Li Causi, a special assignment teacher in experiential learning with the Greater Essex County District School Board, said the visits are connected with curriculum. One class brought butterflies to set free at a nursing home, some classes performed songs or read to seniors, and some have sewn quilts at recess to give out to seniors.
Sandy Malik, a resident at the Riverside Place reads a book with Forest Glade School student Rachel LeBlanc, 8, on Thursday, May 30, 2019. It is part of a school enrichment program that allows youngsters and seniors to spend time together.
Dan Janisse /
Experiential learning gives the students a chance to learn workplace skills such as introducing themselves and it can start them thinking about what they may want to do in life, Li Causi said.It’s the relationships that make it special.Related
“We’ve had students build such a strong bond with some of the residents that they visit monthly that there are tears when they have to end their visit on both ends: tears from the senior and tears from the students.”Chaouali will be sending home a note to parents encouraging them to visit the nursing home with their child during the email@example.com/winstarhill