For several years now, kids and seniors in Lodi have played games, painted, sung songs, and read stories together as part of an intergenerational program at the Good Samaritan Center. Patty Morter runs the program at Good Sam with Lodi elementary’s Beth Sokol.
Relationships, says Morter, are the heart of the program.
“It originated because so many kids’ grandparents live so far away,” says Morter. “We had a readymade audience here.”
The kids come regularly so they can develop friendships with the residents.
“Once they’ve been here a bit they warm up to being friends,” describes Morter. “We tell them it doesn’t matter what age a person is.”
On the day we visited, the kids and residents were trying Timeslips, an improvisational storytelling method for older adults to imagine stories in response to photos and other prompts. The idea is to show photos to people with memory loss and ask them to imagine what’s going on – they don’t have to remember anything but just make something up.
Anne Basting from the Center on Age and Community at UW-Milwaukee created the program. She sees it as a low-stress way to communicate with people who may not remember who they are. People from around the world have learned the method and its been used in places around the world.
The residents love having the kids around. One resident says she loves watching the children interact with each other just as much as she likes interacting with them.
“The success of the program comes from the freedom the children and the adults feel,” says Morter. “It only works because they take ownership of it.”
Program activities are driven by the kids and residents. One girl was learning to knit and worked with a resident on her knitting.
“It’s phenomenal seeing residents do things they wouldn’t do if the kids weren’t here. One of the elderly guys says he used to play tennis and a kid said, ‘I play tennis, too!'” says Morter. “If you give people the opportunity, magic happens.”
This story was produced in partnership with TimeSlips.