Preschool is a WIN for children. Young children today actually have a greater need for many of the abilities a quality preschool can foster. With limited family time and so much virtual reality around, children have a greater need for an environment that will help them develop skills that don’t exist in a I-pad. A good preschool provides much more than academic knowledge. It provides a safe, nurturing, fun environment where a child can build skills in communication, social relationships, emotional growth, and hands on learning.
An inter-generational preschool is a WIN*WIN* situation. Simply bringing children into a senior care center can brighten the resident’s lives there. Testimonials show that even those seniors who have limited communication skills respond with smiles when they see the children, will get out of bed to see the children and will engage in more activities when involved with the children. Children have a natural ability to interact freely with all including those who are elderly or disabled. A preschool environment that engages that natural ability is likely to secure such an unbiased, compassionate attitude as a lifetime personality trait.
Circle of Our Lives Preschool can be a WIN*WIN*WIN* situation as seniors have an opportunity to teach and tutor the children. Seniors with little to do are given meaningful opportunities where they can serve, tutor, and share life experiences. COOL Preschool has a curriculum based on classic songs and stories that have endured for generations. Seniors often reminisce about their own childhood memories as they recognize melodies. By sharing this cultural heritage, the generations are linked. Children benefit for a positive, tutor and mentor in the young lives.
Synergy is where the two things brought together have a greater power united than they do separately. We believe that preschool and enrichment activities for seniors will be more powerful for both of these populations if done together.
Where did this start? Early in the winter of 2015 my friend and I bumped into a documentary trailer called Present Perfect. It showed the amazing intergenerational program happening at Mount Saint Vincent in Seattle where preschool children and the elderly share together. We immediately felt that brining the two communities of the young children and elderly together was right and something we would like to be involved in. We could not find anything like this happening in Utah and very rarely throughout our country so we decided to create our own program. We spent the summer of 2015 giving this a trial run. Copper Ridge Health Center in West Jordan was an amazing host. To our delight, the children immediately responded with kindness and joy amongst the memory care residents there. We sang, marched, and played together. Even if those senior friends don’t remember us, we know there were bright moments and experiences the children will not forget.
After our first summer session, we have continued our research. On every turn there was more to learn about licensing, senior needs, and creating successful non-profits. We gained much from a trip up to Seattle to see the amazing program there. In the summer of 2017 we did another practice trials at the beautiful new Abbington Senior Living Center in Holladay. Again, it was a success. All along the way, we have found many generous people donating their help, preschool supplies, and business training.
Looking ahead, there are many more apparent needs, but the journey has begun and we are excited to see who we will meet along the way. We are preparing for a full year program fall of 2018. We have incorporated ourselves as a non-profit and have several host sites in que. We anticipate running two locations within the Salt Lake Valley.