TROY — First-grade students at Concord Elementary were treated to a visit from residents of Brookdale Senior Living, who joined them in the construction and painting of birdhouses on Thursday.
The program was orchestrated by Gail Bulach, first and second-grade teacher at Concord, and the staff of Clare Bridge, Brookdale’s on-site memory care facility.
“We thought the birdhouses would make a great activity to welcome spring,” Brookdale employee Sarah Jewell said. “We’re in an educational partnership with Concord, and do different things throughout the year. The last time we came to visit was in October, when Ms. Bulach invited our residents to the Halloween costume parade.”
Educators insist that not only do experiences with senior visitors prove rewarding after the fact, but frequently, students voice enthusiasm for the planned events before they even happen.
“Both groups are just as excited to get together,” Bulach said. “That’s what I love about it. The kids have been asking me all week about what day they were coming, because they were so excited to have the residents visit.”
Tina Mellion, program manager for Clare Bridge, expressed that the center’s ongoing relationship with the Troy City School district has allowed for activities to arise fluidly and organically.
“Our residents go to various schools, but also, students come to our location and do programs for us,” Mellion said. “Ms. Bulach brings the kids in once in the fall and once in the spring to do a reading program to show what they’ve learned. They also come in and sing Christmas carols.”
In recent months, the senior-and-student enrichment events have extended beyond classroom activities, and into community charity.
“Throughout all of last year, the ladies were selling crafts, and that money was donated to a family in need here,” Jewell said. “The relationships sort of enrich each other. The seniors and the kids both get something out of it.”
“I think for the seniors, it brings great memories of their children, with all the joy and the laughter,” Mellion said. “The kids love seeing their experience. I know they’ll go home tonight, and tell their parents they met a gentleman from Scotland. They met a lady who was over 100. It just brings out the best in everybody.”
Brookdale is a senior living community that offers personalized assisted living and memory care services to senior citizens. For more information, visit www.brookdale.com.
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