Grand Pals program bridging generational gaps between Heron Terrace residents and students

Intergenerational program has had a positive impact during its six-year history
5/11/2018  - Deron Hamel
Tecumseh Vista Academy students hold a cheque from the WindsorEssex Community Foundation to help with costs for Grand Pals program at Heron Terrace.  

For six years, the Grand Pals program at Heron Terrace has helped bridge generational gaps and created friendships between the Windsor long-term care community’s residents and Grade 4 students from Tecumseh Vista Academy.

The students come once a month and participate with residents in a variety of activities. Currently, there are about 20 students and 15 residents participating in the program, says Heron Terrace life enrichment worker Kelly Boisvert.

“When the students first come in they have a meet-and-greet with the residents to catch up with what has been going on for them in the past month, then we take turns preparing a craft for them to do. Following that, we always end with a bingo session that the residents and kids love,” Kelly tells S&R Today.

Kelly and life enrichment co-ordinator Lori George say the Grand Pals program is benefiting both the residents and the students by providing new social connections.

Lori notes that the students’ teacher, Karen DeSantis, was speaking with a student she had six years ago who fondly remembered the Grand Pals program, so it’s an initiative that’s leaving a lasting impression.

“For the kids coming up, their brothers and sisters have participated in the program, so they’re very excited about it. It’s a generational thing now,” Lori says.

The students require a bus ride to get to Heron Terrace. The school and Heron Terrace have always split the cost of the rides, but earlier this spring the school received a $500 grant from the WindsorEssex Community Foundation, which is offsetting costs.

“The grant is paying for the bus that we would normally help pay for,” Lori says.

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