Forest Hill resident and Grade 8 student connect through their love of reading

Retired teacher Barbara Brownhill and student Ethan Fletcher have been enjoying books together over Zoom calls

Forest Hill resident Barbara Brownhill has been having video conferencing sessions with a local student that provides a forum for the two to share their love of reading.

For the past two months, Barbara will sit at a desk, open a tablet the Ottawa-area long-term care home’s staff members provide and join Grade 8 student Ethan Fletcher for Zoom calls on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 3:30 p.m. to 4 p.m.

Craig Forrest, the home’s life enrichment co-ordinator, says he received an e-mail from Ethan in early February. The student explained he wanted to have Zoom calls with a resident who enjoyed literature, and Craig immediately thought of Barbara.

The two are a perfect fit for this one-to-one intergenerational program, Craig says. Ethan is a student who enjoys reading, and Barbara, who also enjoys books, is a retired teacher.

“He’s really good with Barbara,” he says of Ethan, adding the student is currently reading Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone to Barbara.

When new characters are introduced in the book, Ethan will stop and explain who they are, and he and Barbara will chat about how they fit into the plot.

Forest Hill, like OMNI Health Care’s other long-term care homes, has been working to build stronger community connections in recent years.

The connection between Barbara and Ethan is an example of a “win-win” success that intergenerational programming can bring, Craig says.

“For Ethan, he’s helping Barbara, and Barbara gets to go back to being in a teacher role where she helps him with his reading, so it’s a big success,” he says.

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PHOTO CUTLINE:    Forest Hill resident Barbara Brownhill is seen here having a Zoom call with Grade 8 student Ethan Fletcher. The two have been enjoying books together through conferencing calls since February.