Program encourages seniors, children to mingle

Emily Plihal
Local Journalism
Initiative Reporter

Nampa and Northern Sunrise County Family and Community Support Services (FCSS) coordinators make it their mission to introduce as many programs that link people in their communities together as possible.
They work tirelessly creating programs that will benefit youth, seniors and everyone in-between. Programs that help ensure community members have an opportunity to learn from one another, learn new skills or learn to be more tolerant of difficult situations.
FCSS development coordinator Melanie Lavoie says the Intergenerational Program is a way to link youth with seniors, to help build and nurture empathy for seniors in our community.
“In the past EQV (Ecole de Quatre-Vents) students would go to Sutherland Place and visit seniors there but the teacher wanted to change it up this year as most of our seniors in our community are French speaking and the students get to learn more about their French culture background,” says Lavoie.
“We have a group of Grade 5 students who participate in the program.”
Lavoie adds program participants congregate once every month until June, all with the purpose for the students to visit with the community’s seniors. She explains the program will only run as long as the school year is active, then the program will be re-evaluated to see if it will be brought back in the fall for a new round of kids to participate. The program is held in both St. Isidore and at the school in Peace River.
“We already have a set group and we do not change from month to month,” explains Lavoie, noting that the same children attend every month’s visit.
“Through our county’s FCSS program we have access to a bus that we use for outings with our seniors and community members. We are using this to transport the seniors and students (to the Intergenerational Program).”
Lavoie says the cost to run the program is very minimal as FCSS tries to keep all activities free for the participants.
The program is held once each month of a Friday from 10-11:15 a.m.
“(We are hoping) to build empathy between seniors and children and to grow a sense of belonging within the French culture within the children,” she explains.
To date, 11 youth and 11 seniors have been participating every month.
Lavoie explains they have not yet decided if this will become an annual FCSS program, and they will determine whether or not it makes a comeback based on feedback from participants at the end of the year.
“So far I’ve had a few seniors that have expressed really enjoying it, and from the teachers’ side the kids are always excited to plan the next event,” Lavoie says.
“At this time we already have a repeat group every month so we are not accepting new participants,” she adds.
If you would like more information about any program FCSS has to offer, please phone any of their offices at (780) 322-3954 in Nampa, (780) 624-8071 in St. Isidore or (780) 629-2477 in Cadotte Lake.

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