Cataline Elementary School intergenerational program students and their teacher joined with representatives from the Seniors’ Village Tuesday evening to receive a Community Spirit Award from Mayor Kerry Cook and city council. Pictured in the back row are Jan Banyard (left)

Cataline elementary intergenerational project celebrated

Cataline Elementary School and the Seniors' Village representatives were presented with a Williams Lake Community Spirit Award Tuesday.

The Cataline Elementary School’s Intergenerational Immersion project with the Seniors Village will be celebrated at the school on May 23 with an invitational pot-luck dinner.

The participating Grade 6/7 students and their parents will cook the pot-luck dinner and have sent out invitations to various stakeholders in the community to attend the dinner, says teacher Steve Dickens.

In fairness to students and parents doing all the cooking, Dickens says the event has to be by invitation.

“We are hoping for 20-30 prominent community/business members to attend and bid,” Dickens says. “It should be a tremendous evening.”

After the dinner starting at 5 p.m. the students will show short video clips of their time with the seniors while they were taking classes at the Seniors Village this winter and spring.

The students have been painting six recycled 45-gallon barrels with waste-wise themes using recycled paints that will be auctioned off at the end of the evening to raise funds for a bursary for a high school graduate who has participated in the program.

“The bursary fund, I hope, will be a substantial size by the time kids who take this program are off to university,” Dickens says.

While the event is not open to the general public, Dickens says donations for the bursary would be gratefully accepted.

The auctioneers and masters of ceremony will be Lorne Doerkson and Terry Fowler.

The keynote speaker for the evening will be Sharon MacKenzie, executive director of the i2i Intergenerational Society who pioneered the Intergenerational Learning Project Too Cool 4 School in Sidney, B.C.

Senior’s Village activity director Janet Catalano is on the i2i Intergenerational Society board, for which the Too Cool 4 School is a flagship project nationally, MacKenzie says.

“Your city should indeed be proud of the accomplishments of all of those involved as this is only the second project of its kind in North America and has received acclaim from the governor general of Canada, the UN, the International Federation on Aging and the B.C. ministries of health and education, the National Seniors Council of Canada, numerous university and citizen groups from across Canada,” MacKenzie says.

The Intergenerational Immersion program is designed to teach students the values of respect, responsibility, kindness, caring and acceptance — and help students develop a sense of independence and generosity through a very meaningful experience.

For five weeks last fall and three weeks this spring Dickens’ Grade 6/7 students came to Cataline for an hour in the morning then walked to the Seniors’ Village where they worked on curriculum, provided community service and connected with seniors in various activities such as reading to the seniors, playing games and visiting with them.

MacKenzie is also asking the city to declare June 1 as 2012 Intergenerational Day Canada. She says respectful and purposeful inter-generational connecting is the number one prevention of elder abuse and mistreatment of older and younger generations.

On May 8 Dickens and Cataline elementary principal Mike Grace along with the students and Retirement Concepts’ Seniors’ Village were honoured with a Williams Lake Community Spirit Award.

Dickens says he also received a call this week and follow-up e-mail from Carolyn Prellwitz, chair of the BC Retired Teacher’s Association Committee for Excellence in Public Education, telling him that the Cataline program is one of five winners of a 2012 BCRTA’s Golden Star Award. The award will be presented in Williams Lake by BCRTA and other education representatives later this year.

The i2i Intergenerational Society is also seeking permission from parents and participants to have stories and pictures included in a write-up about the program for the BCRTA Postscript magazine and the BCTF Teacher news magazine and submit reports about the program to the Canadian Association for Retired Teachers.


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