Partnerships bridge gap between generations

‘I think it’s a great learning opportunity all the way around’

From building a model car to turning over flowerbeds, people of all ages are benefitting from the partnerships between OMNI Health Care homes and local high schools.

A collaboration between Burnbrae Gardens and a local school is providing two students with important learning opportunities, while creating meaningful bonds with the Campbellford long-term care home’s residents.

Burnbrae Gardens resident Frank Trombley and Campbellford District High School student Jesse McNeill have collaborated on projects together, including the building of a model car.

Jesse and Sara Ferguson are both students in the Learning and Life Skills program at Campbellford District High School. The pair has been going to Burnbrae Gardens every Wednesday morning for the past month to help staff members with chores and to spend one-to-one time with residents.

“The students look forward to it and I think the residents look forward to seeing them, too,” says educational assistant Mary Ellen Sherwin, who accompanies Jesse and Sara to Burnbrae Gardens every Wednesday.

Mary Ellen says the bonding and friendships that form between the students and residents, coupled with the heightened sense of self-confidence the students garner, are the key results she has seen from the initiative.

“I think it’s a great learning opportunity all the way around,” she says. “I think this program is a good thing. The seniors like the students, and it’s a good fit.”

Meanwhile, on a recent Friday morning a group of students from Thomas A. Stewart Secondary School (TASSS) in Peterborough were busy prepping the gardens at Springdale Country Manor for a planting session in summer.

The three students at the Peterborough County long-term care home are involved with Kinark Child and Family Services’ S.T.R.I.V.E. (Support Teenagers in Readiness for Independence, Vocation and Education) program.

The goal of the S.T.R.I.V.E. program is to help teenagers accessing its services increase their employment and life skills so they can become fully independent and employable.

For about five years, students from the program have been going to Springdale Country Manor for a couple of hours each week in spring to help prep the home’s gardens so residents will have flowers and plants in summer.

The program is an important partnership on many levels, says Mark Wilkins, child and youth counsellor with Kinark Child and Family Services.

Firstly, it’s contributing to residents’ quality of life by providing them with the colourful scenery they enjoy.

“Our program is all about paying it forward; these kids being able to give back to the community, being able to be involved and being a positive role in our community,” Mark says.

For the students, the partnership provides experience to make a difference in their community while helping them acquire the 40 hours of volunteer service they need to graduate.

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