As a part of a school-wide commitment to external community service for all the students at SMUS, the Junior School organizes weekly outings to help at a local seniors’ home. Throughout the second and third term of the year, each class is scheduled to visit the James Bay Care Centre on a Friday morning. The students are involved in a number of activities to contribute to the lives of the senior citizens living in this centre.
Each class has a different focus for their visit and this year the students have already offered a wide variety of activities for the residents of James Bay. The seniors and children have made art together, children have offered musical presentations and they sang together while enjoying some ‘golden oldies’. The residents and children have played games together, written together and read stories to each other. There have been games such as horse racing that have engaged all of the people gathered! Often the children leave a drawing or a piece of writing behind for their new buddy and these are treasured keepsakes on the walls of James Bay Care Centre. Each class has ended the visit by enjoying a refreshment time together.
An important aspect of this service learning is the preparation for the visit during the Life Skills classes and the reflective time when the students return from the visit. Because the Junior School students have been visiting James Bay Care Centre for many years, the Grade 5 students remember the service outings that have taken place each year since Kindergarten. Some students, such as John, have had the same senior buddy each year. He has reflected on his wonderful connection with Betty in the writing below.
The Junior School teachers and students look forward to continuing our association with the James Bay Care Centre and we certainly appreciate this joyful and meaningful experience for both the youngest and eldest who are forming connections.
It’s nice that I’ve been going to see the same person I have ever since Kindergarten. The reason I did that was because I actually thought that’s what I was supposed to do. But then when I got older and the teacher said, ‘You don’t have to go with the same person,’ I said, ‘Oh, I still want to go with her, since I feel like I already know her and already bonded with her.’ Her name is Betty.
Sometimes when we go, if there’s people feeling up to it, some musicians from our group will go and play music for them. Then we go to our buddies, read our favourite book or chat. I usually draw. I remember the very first time I went to her in Kindergarten, the big thing I remember is she loved me drawing, so that’s what I’ve done every time. In Grade 1 we made these pecan drawings for our buddies at the care home, and the funny story is she still has the one I made hanging on her wall to this day!
I like going to the care home because there are people there that are so nice to us, and they know so much. I’m curious about lots of stuff, and the older people are, the more they know. It’s nice listening to their stories, because they have some great ones. I think it’s the best field trip of the year because you get to make somebody’s day and your day is made from it because you just made somebody happy. It makes them feel great.
In Grade 4, in the summer, I actually went to visit Betty, so this may be my last time going to see her with the school, which is very sad, but I don’t think it’s going to be my last time seeing her.
(photos by Gordon Chan)