When it comes to the holiday season, there’s no age limit on spreading Christmas cheer. It’s with this in mind that the residents of Valley Terrace will soon gather together to celebrate the most wonderful time of the year with first and fourth-grade students as part of an intergenerational partnership between Valley Terrace and Marion Cross Elementary. On Tuesday, December 10 at 2:00 p.m., the students will arrive at the community (2820 Christian Street) to spend time with residents while enjoying holiday treats and singing Christmas carols together. The event will mark the students’ monthly visit to Valley Terrace. During these visits, the residents and students interact either by playing bingo, coloring or reading together. The partnership began about six years ago when Becky French, a fourth-grade teacher at Marion Cross Elementary, considered the potential benefits of her students interacting with senior adults.

“It’s been wonderful to witness the shared joy when the children and residents are able to spend time with one another,” said French. “For the students, it offers them the opportunity to both give and receive, and it helps them develop important social skills like how to speak and react around older adults. The residents enjoy the youthful energy the children bring to the community, and it’s obvious the residents get a kick out of hearing stories from the students. It’s been sweet to watch these relationships develop and to see how everyone works together. The residents’ engagement levels vary based on ability, so I’m always touched when I see one of my students carefully reading to one of the residents or helping them move their bingo pieces. It makes me proud as an educator to see how well our students have taken to the partnership and what it means for everyone when we’re together.”

Each visit to the community is meaningful and there have been many special interactions over the years. The monthly visits allow for the residents and the students to connect through fun activities that let participants meet one another on common ground. Such visits are incredibly meaningful for everyone involved, as it allows both the children and residents to learn from one another and build intergenerational relationships.

“Our partnership with Marion Cross Elementary provides our residents with a sense of joy and fun that we couldn’t be happier to make possible,” said Angela Zizza, executive director of Valley Terrace. “Our residents look forward to the students’ coming to visit, and it’s been truly special to see how these relationships have impacted the residents. With the holiday season upon us, we couldn’t think of a better way to celebrate than by welcoming the students to join us in celebrating a wonderful year. We look forward to the remainder of the school year and are excited to continue our partnership with the school for years to come.”

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