WTTW Intergenerational Senior and Youth Program

At Caledonia Senior Living & Memory, we are deeply committed to providing opportunities for residents to build intergenerational relationships and share experiences with the greater community in and around North Riverside. As part of this commitment, on Monday we welcomed students from St. Leonard Catholic School in Berwyn to participate in the third annual WTTW Kids Grandparent Connection on our campus and it made for a fantastic day for all involved!

When the St. Leonard students (all between the ages of 7 and 10) arrived in the morning, they set to work making beautiful floral arrangements for the residents. Next, Caledonia Senior Living and Memory Care staff and volunteers led the students in a few activities including the reading of a Scottish children’s book by Chicago Scots and Caledonia Senior Living President and CEO Gus Noble.  The students then visited our on-site museum and event space, Heritage Hall, for the official WTTW Kids Grandparents Connection program and presented their flower arrangements to the residents and some staff. The sight of children gifting the bouquets of flowers lit up the entire Caledonia community. Flowers have been found to encourage companionship, decrease depression and even enhance short-term memories.

During the WTTW program, students and residents were led in activities like singing and dancing together. The program leaders then talked with the kids about how one person can make a difference in someone’s life, as well as the importance of connecting with older generations.

This is the third year that the WTTW Kids Grandparent Connection program has visited Caledonia Senior Living & Memory Care. According to the WTTW 2018 Local Content and Service Report to the Community, “The mission of the WTTW Kids Grandparent Connection program is to help create that spark which gives seniors a deeper sense of fulfillment and children a greater understanding of their elders.” We find that it also makes for a fun and activity-filled day!

Veronica Skelton Cash, principal of St. Leonard Catholic School, points out that the intergenerational program is good for the students as well as the seniors. “The WTTW Kids Grandparent Connection benefits our students by giving them a social and emotional connection to seniors, while making a difference in the community that we live in at the same time.”

Studies among the senior population have shown that intergenerational relationships can reduce the likelihood of depression, aid in cognitive stimulation and contribute to an overall goal of improved wellbeing. These interactions help to reduce isolation and connect seniors to their community. For the student volunteers, studies have shown that the involvement of a grandparent figure may result in students becoming better-adjusted, mentally healthier teens.

“This program is a wonderful opportunity for residents to engage in a multi-generational experience, says Siân Stevens, Chief Operating Officer, Caledonia Senior Living & Memory Care. “These valuable experiences help improve the lives of both seniors and youth and exemplify what our organization is all about.”

If you have any questions about WTTW Kids Grandparent Day or our commitment to intergenerational life enrichment for all Caledonia Senior Living & Memory Care residents, please contact us!

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