Nadine Hooper

Linking Young and Old

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.