Generation Connect: teens and seniors carve new friendships

Program brings Robert Bateman Secondary students to seniors' homes once a month

Joyce Paquette (left)




On the surface, there can be a gap in culture, lifestyle and outlook between today’s teenagers and seniors.

But when they sit down together, with a pumpkin between them, the years dissolve, as friendships are forged and understanding is broadened.

This is the result of Generation Connect, a program that sees Robert Bateman Secondary students make monthly visits to their elders at two Hallmark Retirement Living locations.

The participants, young and old, have had storytelling sessions, played games, and this Wednesday carved pumpkins that will line Hallmark on the Park’s driveway to attract trick-or-treaters.

Robert Bateman principal Jinder Sarowa said he has seen deep connections made during the visits, with the teenagers feeling their lives are enriched by the experience.

“We thought it would be a great opportunity to learn from each other, share ideas, understand each other’s generations and figure out how they can help each other learn life lessons,” he said.

Sarowa said by talking to the Hallmark residents, the youth are able to get a first-hand perspective on how the world has changed over the last 100 years.

But it’s not just the younger participants who get something out of the experience.

The retirement home residents look forward to the monthly visits, asking their young friends each time they leave when they’ll return.

Anne Fennellow, a Hallmark on the Park resident, said she too has learned from the Robert Bateman students.

“It is an opportunity to talk to teenagers because you hear so much and most of it’s not true and it’s much better to find out for yourself,” she said.

Fennellow’s pumpkin-carving partner, Grade 12 student Sandra Briones, echoed her sentiments.

“I think it’s cool,” she said.

Claire Wilcox, another Grade 12 student, took a break from carving and placing pipe-cleaner antennae in her pumpkin to share her thoughts on the Generation Connect.

“It’s almost humbling because we get to share our stories and also get to hear their stories about what their lives were like as youth and when they were our age,” she said. “We learn from each other.”

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