A Heartfelt Letter from one of our Participating Seniors:
To the Linking Generations Team:
I want to thank you ALL for allowing me to participate as a volunteer in this wonderful and special program. As you can see from my evaluation sheet – my experience was so positive – the BEST!
My students were very special and so gifted. I loved working and being teamed with them both. They helped me to grow within myself immensely. I have a much bigger picture and knowledge and understanding of what teens are going through, their interests and goals they are trying to achieve.
They have helped me so much to broaden my thinking. To think bigger and set goals for myself – even as a senior, and helped me to come out of my ‘shell’.
I really enjoyed the activities we did – the games were fun (made me realize I need to play more – even as a senior). Also, the scrapbooking, the crafts and the visiting and socializing was absolutely great.
I myself felt that they (students) gave me more and enriched my life in a much greater way. I do hope I was able to leave the students with a positive note of what a senior experiences along with challenges we have. We need each other.
I have been so blessed and enriched by volunteering myself with Linking Generations. Thank you so much again!
A caring letter from a grade 12 student:
I am in Grade 12 at Salisbury Composite High School. This is the third year that I have been part of the Linking Generations program. Being part of this program has been a privilege for me.
Many people see volunteering time as a gift to someone else. What they fail to realize are the gifts they received in return. For many of the seniors here, our visits are the highlight of their week.
The seniors I have had the privilege to meet have life stories that need to be shared. Their memories are the histories of our communities and country. Some risked their lives to create the Canada we know. Every one of them knows someone whose sacrifice contributed to the Canada we are celebrating this year with the 150th year celebrations.
Many of the seniors here see the world differently than I do because they lived in a different time where the world was also different. Many of them do things a certain way and I have learned how to create an activity that we both enjoy. I also learned how to be grateful for what I have. By interacting with the seniors here and listening to their life stories, I see how much society have changed. A lot of these changes are because the generations before us tried to make things better for the younger generation. By participating in this program, I have also learned to be patient. Even though I am the volunteer, our visits here are not just about me. I have learned to go with the flow. Sometimes my senior may want to play cards. And sometimes they just want to talk. My favourite word to describe my role in the program is flexibility. There have been times when my senior has not wanted to do the activity that the group is doing so we end up playing another game or just talking. There also may be times when my senior is not there so I go with another group or another senior joins my group for the day. Most of the seniors just want someone to talk to, someone to play games with and someone to interact with. They just want to be appreciated and be told that they are important for no other reason than they are a living, breathing human being. They want to know that they have not been forgotten.
Our country was first populated by people whose history was shared generation-to- generation through an oral tradition. By listening and remembering, their lessons of the past become the teachings of the today which, in turn, become the knowledge of the future.
Many of the stories and life lessons of the people we meet in the Linking Generations program will not be written.
It is in the minds of the student volunteers that their legacy will be acknowledged and continued.
It is my privilege to continue the oral tradition and be the custodian of their legacies.
Thank you for allowing me to share with you the gifts that I have received. I graduate from high school this year and I will always carry the appreciation, respect and acknowledgement that I have received as I make my way to creating a world that is better than when I found it.
What our senior participants have to say…
- Article written by Nadine Hooper in the Sherwood Park News on Tuesday April 4, 2017 (or check out the how the article looked on Sherwood Park News):
Linking Young and Old
By Nadine Hooper
I really enjoy being with young people. Their energy is contagious. Our energy level seems to drop as we age, but a few hours with teenagers can rejuvenate eighty and ninety year olds.
We have been given the privilege by schools here in Sherwood Park to take part in a visit once a week with an organization called Linking Generations. It has been the source of many happy hours for myself and others, as a senior residing in Chartwell Country Cottage Residence. The youth arrive just before 4:00 pm, and a buzz of conversation breaks out as they drop their backpacks to wrap their arms around “their” senior, amid hugs and kisses, and hoots of “Hi!”
No matter what stage of old age, deafness, or inability we are at, they empathize, laugh with us, and share their weekly experiences. We count the days in between visits and look forward to Tuesdays as a group. We roll up our sleeves, young and old, and jump in with paste or paint to participate in the next activity or project.
This camaraderie certainly gives me a sense of being valued. What a great gift to be given from the heart by these kids. Any of the letters to the editor complaining about teenagers can be refuted. The unanimous opinion of the seniors is that these students are our friends.
In the last six years, I have been active and enjoyed these young people from grades eight, ten, and twelve. The pleasant time I have spent with them has been reciprocated, but I feel I have been the winner. I smile and remember good times. The youth have been at different ages and developmental stages, but have harbored a special place in their heart for seniors.
The dedicated people who run the program should be proud of the results from the many hours spent in preparation for each session.
Quality time spent with someone you enjoy is a gift for us older people. The giggles, breaking into songs in a spontaneous manner, and enthusiastic hugs given and received really fill the bill. Let’s hear it for all young people who care about the infirm, poor, and elderly among us, and raise our voices to sing praises of our future generations!
Editor’s Note: Linking Generations, a non-profit organization based out of Sherwood Park, is aimed at building relationships between youth and seniors in the community. The program brings the generations together in order for youth and seniors to share knowledge and life experiences.
For more information on the Linking Generations program, visit the Linking Generations Society of Alberta website at http://www.linkinggenerations.ca.
- “As we get older, we tend to feel forgotten, left behind. Life gets away from us, and we start to feel sorry for ourselves. Linking Generations is a wonderful way to get back into life and stay acquainted with the world. These Young people are the future. They help us to see the way we can still fit into their world and make our lives more interesting. We hear a lot about how this generation is going to the dogs ~ rude, not caring, selfish.. but Linking Generations show us this is not true. We get to visit, play with, and get to know the “cream of the crop.” The more we see of this generation, the more assured we are that the future is in good hands. Thank you, Lakeland Ridge School and Silver Birch Lodge for taking part in this program and allowing us to be part of the lives of these wonderful young people.”
- “The young people brighten up my life ~ I love their bright smiling faces!”
- “These young people are growing up to be a credit to our country; they have so much, but we can still teach them more.”
- “They make us feel young again and bring back many memories.”
- “They are like a breath of fresh air ~ they bring out the spirit in me!”
- “The hugs, the smiles, the gleam in their eyes is delightful!”
- “They help us to feel healthier and happier. We forget about our aches and pains and just delight in their enthusiasm for life!”
- “They are a true blessing ~ very sweet and kind young people.”
What our student participants have to say…
- Below is part of a letter written by the Principal of École Our Lady of Perpetual Help Catholic School (OLPH) Julie Lafrance. The letter includes what some of the students have to say about Linking Generations (or check out the how the complete letter):
‘The experience of Linking Generations helped me to really value older people and their experiences. I am incredibly thankful to all the people who make this program possible.’
‘ We get to give back to the community. We hear stories from the past and we get to make new friends.’
‘We get to to have fun with our seniors while learning new things and giving back to the community.’
‘ I enjoy Linking Generations because we get to talk to the seniors and get to know another generation. We learn what they did in their time. The seniors learn a lot from us as well and they like hearing about our school, technology and what is going on at the school. The activities are always new and exciting. My favourite activity was when we got to design and make our own park.’
- “This past year I have had the privilege to work with Country Cottage and everyone involved. I am always greeted with friendly smiles and welcomes on every single one of my weekly visits. Country Cottage is a beautiful facility and I feel honoured to be a part of it. I have enjoyed every single aspect of my Linking Generations’ visits. I wanted to thank Country Cottage for allowing this program into its home. We students are told that we make a difference in the lives of the people here, but sometimes it is hard to see from our end. Nonetheless I value this program just the same. What Country Cottage doesn’t always see from their end is how much the seniors make a difference in our lives too. I could be having a terrible day but my mood instantly picks up as soon as I walk into this place and start a craft or board game with my matched senior. There are always many laughs and giggles coming from our table! Also, the heartwarming feeling I get when my senior partner smiles. I know other students have similar moments with their partners as well. At first this program seemed a little daunting, meeting with a stranger every week and just talking or playing games, but I am so glad I did it. Honestly this program is a wonderful experience and I want to thank the seniors who are involved. You guys have brightened up our lives more than you know and the experience would be nothing without willing residence participants like you. Thank you to everyone, from the bottom of our hearts. “
- “This program has taught me that seniors are just like us; they have a great sense of humour and love to have fun.”
- “Seniors are an important part of our society and have something to share ~ may we cherish their wisdom!”
- “We learned life lessons ~ it’s amazing to spend time with a person who has lived on this earth so much longer than we have. They are so wise.”
- “May we be thankful for the knowledge and life experience they share with our generation. Let us be grateful for the gift that they continue to give us.”
- “Help us to be patient and compassionate with others and understand that their challenges are many.”
- “Life is precious ~ enjoy every moment of it! Be happy, smile and be kind!”
- “If you give from the heart, you will receive kindness and compassion back.”
- “Always respect and honour others before yourself.”
What our parents have to say…
- A wonderful comment shared by a parent in regards to our Bedford Village partnership: “I wanted to let you know what a great program this is. My daughter is thoroughly enjoying this experience and talks very positively about it. Thank you for making this happen. It most certainly has been great for my daughter”!