Imagine a place where an 86-year-old makes crafts with a 3-year-old, where a 4-year-old suddenly discovers that her 94-year-old friend didn’t have a television when he was a boy, or where a 5-year-old practices writing his name with a 77-year-old. This year United Helpers and the Canton Day Care Center joined forces on the Maplewood Campus to create the areas’ first structured intergenerational program where people of all ages learn and explore together while building ongoing, meaningful relationships.
Children are natural explorers and nothing lights up a resident’s face quicker then that of a child. The intergenerational interactions on the United Helpers Maplewood Campus offer children and residents the opportunity to participate in activities that will ultimately enhance social skills, stimulate learning, improve health, and increase emotional support and stability. By sharing stories and talents, children provide residents insight on technological advances, while their counterparts provide an eyewitness account of historic events and what life was like when they were young.
“I really enjoy watching the school age children interacting and assisting the residents during activities,” said Nancy Addison, Canton Child Day Care Executive Director.
At Maplewood infants ranging from six weeks to twenty-four months are often seen strolling throughout the halls with their daycare provider, visiting with residents and staff. Toddlers, preschoolers, school age children, and residents participate in board games, story times, baking, crafts, carnival games, ice cream cone days, picnics, ball games, BINGO, birthday parties, exercise groups, movies and PJ days together. During the holidays the children also share meals and perform concerts for the residents. These intergenerational connections not only build bridges between generations, they are magical.
“The residents really enjoy interacting with the children from The Canton Day Care Center,” said Maplewood Activities Leader Patience Boswell. “The diverse intergenerational opportunities offered at Maplewood give the residents something to look forward to and someone to interact with daily.”