Inter-generational programs are a win-win

Published 7:00 am Tuesday, May 27, 2014

By Darlene Adams

Guest Columnist 

Ever heard that tune “It’s not where you start, it’s where you finish, written by Dorothy Fields and Cy Coleman? That could be our mantra at the Senior Center of South Pearl River County.

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Unlike popular belief, the majority of seniors want to give back to the community in their golden years. The Senior Center offers opportunities to do just that. One of those is by collaborating with our youth.

These two age groups have long been portrayed in a negative way by society. We have all seen the images of seniors sitting around in rocking chairs grumbling. Or the youth depicted as wild and out of control.

According to The National Council on Aging, inter-generational programs utilize both the strengths and assets of these two age groups to make our community better.

At one of our accreditation meetings, I met with Dean Shaw, Superintendent of Picayune School District.

I asked the question, “What can our seniors do to help our youth?”

Out of that meeting came our “Bingo Party.” Third grade students from Nicholson Elementary were chosen as the model group. Those having perfect attendance for the month were able to take a bus ride over to the Center with Mr. Shaw. With seniors assisting, students played three games of bingo to win prizes. After refreshments, certificates were awarded to each student. This program proved successful. The increase in perfect attendance resulted in names having to be drawn to attend the next Bingo Party.

Patrick Rutherford, principal for Nicholson Elementary stated, “I believe that this made a difference in our third grade attendance. Teachers, such as Mrs. Deidra Thompson, stated that the children were excited about earning a chance to go and each month looked forward to see if they made the list.”

The Center has also participated in the Picayune Police Department’s Summer Camp program, having the youth come to the Center to play bingo and win prizes.

Our most recent opportunity was on May 15 when the Picayune Memorial High School Jazz Band performed at the Center. It all began three years ago when band director, John Cochrell was looking for a venue where his small jazz band could perform.

After contacting the Center and date scheduled, the band performed for the senior community as well as their own family members. In this year’s third performance, the jazz band has grown tremendously and added more songs to its repertoire.

The Center is actively looking for ways to collaborate with our local schools. We have our beautiful building and senior volunteers ready to help.

We want to do our part in assisting our youth to be their very best. If you know of an inter-generational project, please contact me at the Center.

It is a win-win for everyone.