Tons of fun as kids, elderly meet

Tons of fun as kids, elderly meet

The young and the not-so-young in Green Valley are getting a chance to interact with one another through a program organized by a community service agency.

Kids ages 2 to 5 and senior citizens there do crafts, play and read together.

The concept behind the intergenerational programming is that different generations participate in activities together and all benefit.

"Both of these populations have some unique strengths that they offer. When you bring them together, they both provide something for one another, and that's pretty special," said Bill McCreery, director of Casa Community Services, which runs the program.

Casa Community Services, at 780 S. Park Centre Ave., runs adult and children's day care as well as a senior community center. It introduced intergenerational programs around 20 years ago. Recently, though, the program has gained more attention - last month La Posada, a senior living home, and Casa de Esperanza, now Casa Community Services, merged.

Bringing all the facilities together under one agency allows them to share more resources, McCreery said. Intergenerational programming involves children and adults from Casa's many care centers, and provides activities such as music, arts and crafts, and reading. But it's not just for fun, McCreery said.

"Part of what we want to be sure about is to focus more on quality interactions and not entertainment," he said. "We want to do things where they really get to be together and get to know each other."

The children like knowing that adults are interested in spending time with them. As for the adults, it helps them avoid the social isolation that can occur from dementia or loss of family members.

"This gives them a chance to create some community," McCreery said.

La Posada residents Mary Roush, 80, and Punky Griggs, 90, host tea parties for the children. The parties involve reading, singing, eating and drinking tea - or, for the kids, apple juice.

"I was stunned at how fun it was," Roush said. "It's just lively, the energy of these little ones."

Not only are the tea parties enjoyable, they teach the children table manners and sharing.

"It's really a learning situation," Griggs said.

Artist Winston Churchill Mani, 96, has participated in the program for years by teaching art to the children. Mani, known as Grandpa Winston to the children, shows them how to mix colors and paint using watercolors.

"We don't do much verbalizing. It's mainly demonstrating, speaking with a brush," Mani said. Mani has hearing problems that make it difficult to interact with the children at times, but he said he still enjoys it.

"It's a plus that they experience different people," he said.

Find out more

For more information about the intergenerational program at Casa Community Services, call Barbara Averill at 625-2273.

Krystal Jenkins is a University of Arizona journalism student who is an apprentice at the Star. Contact her at starapprentice@azstarnet.com

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