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posted: 7/2/2014 11:11 AM

Youth-Senior Bonds Abloom at Sedgebrook

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  • Meridian Middle School students visited residents at Sedgebrook and took part in activities like flower pen decorating.Ivy Marketing Group

    Meridian Middle School students visited residents at Sedgebrook and took part in activities like flower pen decorating.Ivy Marketing Group

Ivy Marketing Group

When students in a social emotional learning program at Meridian Middle School in Buffalo Grove were asked what they would like to do for others, they chose working with seniors. Thus, on May 27, 45 10 and 11-year-old students brought six activity stations to Sedgebrook, a senior living community in Lincolnshire. At these stations, residents could learn, create, play games, and share stories with the youngsters. Chosen by the students, activities included board games, card games, bookmark making, technology, a spring mural, and flower pen decorating.

"It was fantastic," said Sedgebrook community resources coordinator Ryan Springer of the event. "The kids were a delight to be around, and our residents had a lot of fun comparing what they did and knew as children with what the students do and know. Automobiles were just coming into being when some of our residents were young; now every kid knows how to use a computer." Indeed, at the technology station, students and seniors were eager to explore the capabilities of the iPad together.

"Everyone got so much out of the day," said Meridian gifted education teacher Stacy Lipschutz, who, along with 5th grade teachers Sherrie Cummins and Lindsay Zucker, facilitated and helped plan the activities created by the students. "They just loved teaching and working with the residents and getting such positive feedback and appreciation from them. It was an amazing experience to witness."
Two days later, on a sunny May 29, Girl Scouts from Daniel Wright Junior High in Lincolnshire joined residents in planting flowers in Sedgebrook's community garden. For several years, Springer has worked with troop leader Heather O'Brien to organize intergenerational events, such as game nights, holiday caroling, and spring planting. Coached by staff, residents showed the Girl Scouts how to plant the raised beds. "There were about five seniors and 20 scouts working together, and the garden looks beautiful," said Springer.

What is even more beautiful, according to O'Brien, is the continued relationship of the local community with Sedgebrook residents. "We have been working together for several years, and it is wonderful to see familiar faces when we visit," she said, remarking that one resident is a crossing guard at Daniel Wright School, and another is the grandmother of a "retired" Girl Scout.

"The girls are able to spread their wings and try new things when they do things with older generations," O'Brien said. "With no electronic devices to rely on, they have to have actual conversations." O'Brien's daughters, Olivia and Maire, were among the group of young planters. "The residents were willing to help us and also chat with us--some had very interesting stories to tell!" said Olivia. Maire said, "The residents are so nice and friendly; they helped me plant the flowers and obviously loved having visitors."

"All of our residents had a great time at both events," said Springer, who also enjoyed engaging in the activities with the middle schoolers. "They were like a swarm of friendly bees! What a great opportunity for the residents and students to learn from one another. It was very heartwarming to see the dynamic between them."

Sedgebrook is a continuing care retirement community (CCRC) offering a diverse lifestyle, maintenance-free living and outstanding amenities. Five-star rated Radford Green Health Care and Rehabilitation is located on the 92-acre Sedgebrook campus in Lincolnshire, Illinois. Sedgebrook is owned by Senior Care Development LLC and managed by Life Care Services LLC. For additional information visit or call 847-901-3319.