Kids Connection Engages Elderly
The Eskaton Lodge celebrated the new school year with the Kids Connection classroom of Christine Flok’s 6th grade from F.C. Joyce Elementary in North Highlands, where 26 students interviewed their assigned buddies ranging in age from 60 to 100 years old. A Halloween activity followed the interview, allowing the residents and students to build their yearlong relationship.
“Our residents look forward to interacting with the youth,” said Activity Director Terry Studstill. “The Kids Connection program helps break down misconceptions the kids have about aging.”
The Eskaton Senior Living Community partners with local schools and brings nearly 650 elementary school children together with “buddies” residing in 23 senior living communities. Students and seniors enjoy reading books, doing arts projects, singing songs and much more.
“This is one of the most enjoyable and rewarding educational programs in which I have been involved,” said one teacher, noting these relationships transcend cultural, economic and generational barriers.
The program began in 2009 and has since shown dramatic, positive results for residents while advancing learning skills for students. “This is not just an opportunity for kids to entertain the elderly,” said Eskaton Chief Operating Officer Betsy Donovan. “It’s an opportunity for true engagement and the development of real relationships.
“Through Kids Connection, Eskaton is able to create intergenerational learning opportunities, increase resident socialization and satisfaction, introduce children to new educational stimuli and build the nonprofit’s identity as a vibrant organization involved in creative, multi-generational endeavors that inevitably further its social accountability,” Donovan said.
Many students in the program do not have older adults in their lives, so it is imperative to their overall development to build relationships with someone who is experienced in life.
Eskaton Kids Connection can be replicated in any school district, as long as the main objectives of the guide are implemented and remain consistent. For more information on the CALA award, visit http://www.eskaton.org/kids-connection/landing.html.
Eskaton is a Northern California-based, nonprofit organization with over 45 years of experience. Our dedicated team members provide services and support for nearly 12,000 individuals per year who live in our communities or participate in our comprehensive home support services network.