Sharon Berger

Sharon Berger

Grant helps brings Beaver Valley seniors and youth together

“One thing [they did together] was chess and it took off like crazy. All of the kids play chess now." - Vickie Fitzpatrick

Kids played cribbage and seniors headed back to class as part of the Beaver Valley Age-friendly program and the New Horizons grant.

Tuesday afternoon was the final seniors luncheon, providing a chance for seniors to get out and about, until September and organizers took time to recognize the seniors and students who spent quality time together at the monthly luncheons, as well as doing other organized activities throughout the school year.

Fruitvale Mayor Patricia Cecchini says the activities, funded by the $19,000 government grant, have created a familiarity between young people and the older generations in the area.

“The gist of [the grant] was to involve the seniors with the youth, so we teamed up with the elementary school,” she said

“One of the things I found out was the seniors were scared of the youth in terms of safety, and the youth were just as scared of the seniors.

“By having the youth talk to the seniors and the seniors go into the school and work with the youth, they are no longer afraid and we are taking away the unknown. One of the things we have been trying to address is socialization and isolation for the seniors. This gives them a venue that they can socialize.”

Vickie Fitzpatrick, coordinator of the seniors program at the Fruitvale Community Hall says the program was special because the two groups learned from each other.

“The students got to tell us what they wanted to learn from the seniors,” said Fitzpatrick. “One thing [they did together] was chess and it took off like crazy. All of the kids play chess now. History was also huge. The seniors shared a catalogue from the 1920s.

“The kids said, ‘nice dresses,’ and the seniors told them they were slips and the kids had never seen a slip before. It was priceless.”

Seniors and students also played cribbage together and even took to the dirt to do some gardening.

The relationship between the two age groups extends past the organized activities and Cecchini says she can see the grant’s success at work everyday.

“One of the most rewarding things that I’ve been able to see is when the youth are talking to the seniors on the street, calling them by name,” she said. “That’s been huge. To me, if that’s all we got out of this, then it was more than worth it.”

Grade 7 students also participate in the monthly luncheons put on by the Beaver Valley Age-friendly Program.

“A few Grade 7 students come and serve lunch on a regular basis,” said Cecchini. “We have brought in the two Grade 7 classes and they just had dessert with the seniors. It went over great and again just bridges that barrier. It’s a venue where we can have them focus on living a beneficial life.”

While every penny of this most recent grant has been spent, Cecchini says there may be more activities in the future.

“This particular grant is done, and we have applied for other grants,” she said. “Of course, we will try and build on what we started.”