When it comes to learning, you’re never too old or young to try something new. It’s with this in mind that the residents of Windham Terrace Assisted Living are gathering school supplies and “heading back to school” as part of an intergenerational partnership between the senior living community and Windham High School. Once a month, residents from Windham Terrace visit the high school where they have the opportunity to jump back into class with the students and participate in the day’s assignment. Subjects run the gamut, ranging from basic math and science courses all the way through to creative writing and jewelry making. Each class not only provides residents the chance to revisit their youth, but also to engage with young people and learn about their experiences. The “Back to School” program has been a hit since school started in the fall, and for residents such as Greta David, the monthly visits provide a sense of joy as she interacts with the students.
“I’ve enjoyed being able to get out and meet the students and learn more about their lives,” said David. “It’s interesting to see how their school experiences differ from ours but are also similar in many ways. Recently, we visited the school and attended a creative writing class, and while we normally participate, this time we found ourselves as the subjects. It was wonderful to share more about my life with the students and then hear what they had written read back during the rest of the class. We were all entertained while hearing one another’s stories and more personal aspects of our lives. Each visit brings a new experience, and I look forward to the next class.
The partnership began near the end of spring 2018 when Windham Terrace contacted the school to begin planning a way for local youths and seniors to connect on common ground. While similar programs may only have the residents attend and observe, the Back to School partnership sees the residents as active participants and seeks to involve them in as many ways as possible.
“Welcoming the residents to our school and seeing the friendships form between the seniors and our students has been wonderful to witness,” said Holly Londo, service/ELO and transition coordinator at Windham High School. “The students like having the residents join them, and we have seen firsthand how this participation has impacted both groups. The students really latched onto the program and look forward to the residents’ visits. It’s a win-win for both of us, and we are so proud of how the students have really taken charge when connecting with the residents. We’re excited to see how these relationships continue to strengthen as the partnership grows.”
Windham Terrace will make their next visit to Windham High on Friday, March 22 at 10:00 a.m. During the March visit, residents will be able to join students for Spanish and graphic design classes.
“The partnership with Windham High has provided our residents with a sense of fulfillment, and we couldn’t be happier to help make it possible,” said Lynda Brislin, executive director of Windham Terrace. “At Windham Terrace, we believe in the importance of providing our residents with rewarding activities, and this is one that we know brings them satisfaction and happiness. We look forward to continuing the partnership as the residents and students are showing all of us what it means to keep learning and building new relationships.”