Thursday Northwest Star preview: Special needs students brighten up days at retirement home

2014-02-19T15:00:00Z Thursday Northwest Star preview: Special needs students brighten up days at retirement homeBy Phil Villarreal Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star

Canyon del Oro High School special education teacher Pam Duarte has found a way to brighten the lives of the elderly while helping her students hone their social skills.

Duarte takes her life skills class, which consists of special needs students, to the Fountains at La Cholla every other week. There, the students hang out, chat and play games for about an hour with residents in the memory care ward who have dementia or other memory-related illnesses.

The facility, at 2001 W. Rudasill Road, houses more than 300 seniors.

Fountains spokeswoman Karen Conway said the students’ visits, particularly a Feb. 10 Valentine’s Day-themed dance, is therapeutic for the seniors.

“You just get to see their eyes light up, and both groups have such a good time,” she said. “They’re interacting with each other, and they both get to help each other out in the sense of being part of the same community twice a month.”

The students and seniors play bingo and Wii bowling and make arts and crafts.

Duarte said the visits prepare her students to be helpful, productive and self-sufficient adults.

For the rest of the story, read Thursday's Northwest Star.

Contact reporter Phil Villarreal at or 573-4130.

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

About this blog

The Star's Northwest team, Tiffany Kjos and Phil Villarreal, write this blog, which focuses on all of northern Pima County, including Marana, Picture Rocks, Avra Valley, Oro Valley and Catalina; and SaddleBrooke in Pinal County. They welcome contributions via email at

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