PORT HAWKESBURY: From January to May 2018, approximately 20 students in the Discovering Opportunities 9 class at Richmond Academy in Louisdale took part in an impressive and innovative intergenerational communication project with the residents of the Richmond Villa Nursing Home.
Deanna Martell and Justin Fougere, Discovering Opportunities teachers, explained that a group of students brought the idea for the project forward. During class one day, they asked to learn how to talk with people.
“This intergenerational project embodies what Discovering Opportunities is all about; that students were able to identify an area within themselves that they wanted to improve upon, and created a project that was student led, collaborative and community minded, all-the-while building trust and friendship along the way,” Martell said.
“In partnership with the Villa’s recreation director, Paula Sampson, students were matched with a resident, began visiting with them at the Villa once a month and immediately relationships and friendships between generations were developed through casual conversation, games and the sharing of life stories.”
Support was also provided by Paige Cameron, a Speech-Language Pathologist with the Strait Regional Centre for Education who provided explicit instruction on how to initiate and maintain a conversation, as well as information on respectful communication.
For true intergenerational communication to occur, students invited the residents to visit with them at the school to experience what 21st century learning looks like. Sixteen residents ranging in age from 80 to 102 years were transported to the school on May 18 for a celebration that included sharing of the highlights of the communication program, and testimonials, by both students and residents, a slideshow of photos, student entertainment and table games, and lunch.
“We are so proud of our students – they surpassed our expectations and have shown increased confidence in their face-to-face communication skills, and have truly developed meaningful and lasting friendships with the residents,” said Martell.