Seniors and Grade School Kids Gather for Laughter, Conversation
They draw and color together, chatting like good friends do. Eventually, some switch to playing card games, others find something more to draw. The room hums with conversation and laughter. Despite the age difference—at least 80 years!—these third graders and residents of the Jewish Home's Joyce Eisenberg-Keefer Medical Center (JEKMC) find they have lots to share with each other during their monthly get-togethers.
For nearly 25 years, teacher Angela Bronson has organized these intergenerational gatherings, bringing her third grade students from Balboa Gifted/High Ability Magnet Elementary school to spend time with the Home's residents during the school year. Each of the 24 students is paired up with a Jewish Home buddy. They complete craft projects together, and the students interview their buddies about their lives and times.
At the end of the year, the interviews are compiled into a biography for each resident, which the students present to their buddies in May.
And in the process, some students learn the rules of poker, while they all learn lessons in both history and compassion.
"My students have learned about segregation and integration. They've also learned how much common grocery items used to cost," Bronson says. "Some kids who don't talk in class, will participate here. I think they learn more here than anywhere. They learn about life here."
Jewish Home residents also benefit. "The residents really light up when the kids are here," says Fran Finklestein, the Home's director of therapeutic activities at JEKMC. "They love this activity."
Bronson says that over the years, some of the students have forged such strong friendships with their buddies that they visit them at the Home on weekends.
Resident Priscilla Siegel says the program provides one of her biggest joys. She saves and treasures every craft project that she works on with her buddy. "These kids are so smart! I love spending time with them."