By ALLISON MATYUS
Eighth graders from Bret Harte Elementary School and senior residents at Montgomery Place had the chance to spend an afternoon together through WTTW’s program, Grandparent Connection.
On March 23, 38 students from Bret Harte, 1556 E. 56th St., visited their neighbors at Montgomery Place, 5550 S. Shore Dr., for an intergenerational and interactive program of singing, dancing and games.
The Grandparent Connection program visits six senior centers in the Chicago area each year to collaborate with kids from a nearby school. Account Executive of WTTW, Grace Winston, said that it has proven beneficial for both the kids and the seniors.
“Especially in a place like Chicago where people move here from all over, a lot of children don’t get to interact with seniors much because their grandparents might live elsewhere,” she said. “Same thing with the seniors; they either don’t have grandchildren or their grandchildren live far away.”
The program brings PBS personality Miss Lori from Miss Lori’s CAMPUS, who guides the kids and seniors through sing-alongs, dancing and games. Skills like hand-eye coordination, exercising and socializing benefit both kids’ development and seniors’ motor skills.
The students were not shy about going up to residents and introducing themselves, even making some friends along the way.
On the senior side, Montgomery Place resident Mae Wygant said she was delighted to meet the kids.
“When we go for walks we pass the school all the time, so it’s nice to finally get to see the kids and meet them,” she said. “It was a pleasure to see these beautiful, smiling faces and was a wonderful way to start the afternoon.”
Bret Harte students visit Montgomery Place every year for their annual holiday concert, but this event was an opportunity for the kids not in the school choir to meet their fellow neighbors and community members.
“I think the children are enjoying it and meeting some of the people who live right down the street,” said third grade teacher at Bret Harte, Sandy Summers. “I think it’s a great way for them to give back to the community.”