Students and seniors who were matched in a flower project through an Abbotsford elementary school were finally able to meet in person on Friday (May 6) for its completion.
The project, Planting Intergenerational Promises, paired teacher Debbie Mar’s 22 Grade 3 students at Upper Sumas Elementary with seniors through Archway Community Services.
The program was done in partnership with the B.C. Agriculture in the Classroom Foundation.
The project began in September, with the intention of the matches meeting in person to plant flowers together. But due to the ongoing pandemic, an in-person launch was not possible.
Instead, the kids were assigned to create watercolour paintings of their favourite flower and explain in a written note why it was special to them.
The paintings were delivered to the seniors in October, along with art supplies. The seniors then created their own artwork to be delivered back to their student matches.
The students’ artwork was then turned into greeting cards to be sold, with plans to use the money to purchase small Christmas trees for the seniors.
But the project was put on hold when catastrophic floods hit the region in November. Upper Sumas Elementary was one of two schools in Abbotsford – the other was Barrowtown Elementary – that was heavily damaged.
Students and staff had to be moved to other temporary locations while repairs took place over the following months. (They were only recently able to move back into the school.)
Once the kids were moved to a different location, they forged ahead with their Christmas tree project.
Mini trees were donated by the Saran family, and the kids decorated them with paper chains, bells, lights and words such as “peace,” “love,” “hope,” “support” and “gratitude.”
The students also made cards for the seniors with notes through which many of them addressed their experiences related to the flooding.
The final portion of Planting Intergenerational Promises took place last Friday, when the students and seniors met in person for the first time at Archway.
The program included the students reading poems they had written and then making small floral bouquets with the seniors, using flowers from Confetti Floral Design purchased with money from the greeting-card sales.
They had also received some donations – both private and from B.C. Agriculture in the Classroom.
The pairs also planted seeds donated by West Coast Seeds and enjoyed refreshments.
Mar said the project has been such a success that many of the seniors and students plan to stay in touch. She also hopes to offer the program with her next group of students in the 2022-23 school year.
Mar has also been notified that she and her students are this year’s recipients of the Golden Star Award, sponsored by the B.C. Retired Teachers’ Association. The award recognizes programs that bring together students and seniors.
The honour comes with $1,500, which Mar said will go back into the program to purchase bulbs, seeds and flowers.
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