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Uniting Generations at Walpole North Elementary School

A group of elementary students converses with older adults at a retirement home

There’s no generation gap here.

A unique program has students and seniors bridging the decades that separate their experiences. Students at Walpole North Elementary School are benefiting from the wisdom and storytelling of older adults, while sharing their own learning with seniors at local retirement homes. Three classes are taking part in SKIP – Seniors and Kids Intergenerational Program – and both the young and young at heart are finding the monthly visits to be an incredibly enriching experience.

“Students and seniors spend time in conversation, and then participate in a fun activity together,” explains Clara Anderson, principal at Walpole North Elementary School. “The intergenerational collaboration means students are learning from the experiences of older adults, while also sharing with them about their own lives. It’s a pretty powerful exchange.”

Traditional activities such as playing board games are balanced with 21st-century Science and Technology lessons that the students share. Last month, the Grade 3 and 4 classes hosted a Valentine’s tea party with seniors in Hagersville, complete with homemade cookies and a Valentine card activity they worked on together.

"I think it’s a lot of fun, and I like the social part of it,” said Darcy, a Grade 4 student. “It’s pretty cool and exciting, and makes me feel like the seniors are happy to see us."

Community is a pillar in Grand Erie’s Multi-Year Plan, and this program embodies its ideals of integrating and celebrating the partners whose contributions enhance the learning experiences of students.

The feeling is mutual, and the benefits are shared by both students and seniors.

“When you come to visit us, it makes me feel young again,” said one senior following the tea party.