A Geary Elementary Community School student chats with seniors from Enhanced Living Oromocto, on Valentine’s Day. The interaction is part of an ongoing program at the school to show the benefits of intergenerational activities between students and seniors.

Older members of our community have a wealth of knowledge and wisdom to share. And whether they live in a family home or assisted living, we need to make time for our elders.

That’s why Geary Elementary Community School staff chose this week, Feb. 13-17–declared National Long-term Care Week by Centres of Excellence New Brunswick–to teach students the importance of nurturing relationships and engaging with senior members of the community.

Thanks to a $25,000 grant from the federal New Horizons for Seniors Program, the school could purchase computer and audiovisual equipment, which students in kindergarten through Grade 5 used to participate in a virtual meetup on Valentine’s Day with residents of Enhanced Living Oromocto. Enhanced Living residents took student questions on several topics, including favourite foods and how they were feeling. And in a move contrary to the norm, students read a story to the seniors.

“Our goal is for the students and seniors to experience the benefits of intergenerational activities,” said Leola Langille, community school coordinator at Geary Elementary Community School. “We know that pursuing purposeful intergenerational activities improves mental, social, emotional and physical health and educates all generations involved.”

The grant, which also included funding for books, allowed Geary Elementary Community School to place the computer and audiovisual equipment at Enhanced Living Oromocto, as well.

“This project is something that we see such a high level of excitement and engagement in from our staff, students and the residents of Enhanced Living Oromocto,” said Geary Elementary Community School Principal Amy Durant.

“Through our sessions, we have been able to witness students gaining an increased understanding of community, as well as the delight of sharing with seniors,” said Langille

Weekly virtual meetings between students and seniors will continue well after National Long-term Care Week, said Langille, with student-to-senior and senior-to-student reading sessions scheduled. The next session happens on Tuesday, Feb. 21 at 1 p.m.

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