Along with the people they see every day, the residents of Highgate Senior Living Center have a special friendship with a fourth-grade class at South Ridge Elementary School.
The seniors visit the classroom, the students make regular trips to Highgate to see their friends and letters are exchanged when meet-ups can’t happen. When they get together to see each other, there are smiles, hugs, joy and laughter, and it all started with a monthly kindness project.
Fourth grade teacher Karen Moses started a project called First Friday Friendship Fiesta so her students could celebrate acts of kindness. In previous years, students focused on how they could better their school or community. But when last year’s class visited Highgate Senior Living Center, it sparked something new; Moses could tell that the intergenerational program meant a great deal to both the seniors and the students.
This year, Moses decided to do more.
“Our wonderful PTA gave us a grant for three bus trips,” Moses said in a news release.
Principal Jill Neyenhouse gave them funds for a fourth trip. Moses and class parents donated food and decorated the classroom for events at the school. The staff at Highgate helped plan and host events at the center. So far, there have been four visits with the fourth-graders and the seniors, including a Valentine’s Day lunch at Highgate.
Each visit to the center builds stronger friendships and bridges generations as the seniors get a window into the students’ lives and vice-versa. The students can learn from a lifetime of experience and the seniors get to enjoy the enthusiasm and excitement of the kids. The students look forward to their time with the seniors. The class spends time writing letters or making gifts before the visits. When they see their friends again, the happiness is contagious; they can’t wait to sit down together and catch up.
“The kids are making such special connections,” Moses said. “To see the joy on the faces of both the kids and the seniors when they catch sight of their special friends is a delight to see!” They are all looking forward to the next time they see each other in this unique celebration of friendship, and they show that you’re never too young or old to make new friends.