Partnering High School Seniors with Senior Citizens...
Community Outreach Director, Nancy Raia, discusses her latest Senior to Senior program and how it impacts students each and every year.
During the Fall of 2019, I partnered with the Fairhope High School Art Club and educator Lynda Williams in bringing the Senior to Senior project to the assisted living community, Brennity of Fairhope. The monthly lesson allows senior students to partner with senior adults on visual art collaborations. As they create, the seniors converse and become acquainted with each other, as well as the group. Students discuss upcoming college plans and potential careers giving the seniors the opportunity to reminensce about their own lives and experiences. Long after club requirements are met, students continue to volunteer due the attachments formed with the residents.
After introducing the newest group of student volunteers this past November, I approached a young man recognized by his fabulous smile. “Don’t I know you from Rotary Youth Club?” I asked. He laughed and was impressed to have been remembered as a student from at least eight years ago. We were both very happy to see each other and I was thrilled to see a past student volunteering with the arts. After leading projects like “Senior to Senior”, I ask the participants to follow up with essays that provide insight regarding visual art collaborations with unique populations. I would like to share the narrative from my past student with the fabulous smile and ongoing love of the arts and community service:
“I would like to start off by thanking Mrs. Williams and Mrs. Nancy for giving me the opportunity to work at the Brennity (of Fairhope). This experience gave me new insight on the elderly- taught me ways to interact with them. I never thought something so simple as a conversation would have such an impact as it did. Whenever you would strike up a conversation with any of them, they’d instantly light up. This was probably my favorite part of the whole event. Just getting to know them and learn about their lives, especially their earlier lives, which would be full of memorable and fascinating events. Watching their thought process when it came to their paintings was pretty captivating with how they went about their design and colors. There wasn’t one pumpkin that looked like another, they showed off their impressive individualism. This event was by far one of my favorites never having a dull moment, while also being very heartwarming at the same time. Just having this chance to get to know some of these people and learn about their lives was an ultimate reward in and of itself.I was also given the chance to reconnect with my art teacher from the Rotary Youth Club. Overall, this is an experience that I’ll never forget and will always look back upon.”
Written by: Bryson Martin 12/2/19
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