Sitting close beside each other in lawn chairs Brendan Haberland and Jessie Voth exchanged smiles.
The two have become friends this year through an intergenerational project in Williams Lake.
Haberland is a Grade 6 student at Cataline Elementary School. In October his class began meeting with seniors at Williams Lake Seniors Village, where Voth has lived for about one year.
“She’s a kind buddy,” Brendan said as he looked over toward Voth. “And she’s very fit, considering how old she is.”
Leaning in toward him Voth revealed that she is 86.
“That’s not old,” he said. “I think 100 is old.”
Touching his shoulder, she smiled, and told him, “thank you very much.”
For the month of October, the Grade 6 class attended school every day at Seniors Village.
They return in May for three weeks and were back and forth between the school and Seniors Village throughout the year, Seniors Village recreation co-ordinator Janet Catalano said.
Voth said she was glad she participated in the program.
“We’ve meshed. He feels like my grandson,” she said of Haberland.
Ivy Inemark who will be 89 on July 4 was matched up with Paris Masters, but felt like she had four buddies because she interacted with them all the time.
“We had a lot of fun playing cards,” Inemark said. “They are wonderful girls. All the kids are. They are so very polite.”
It was the first time Karl Anhalt, 82, had a buddy and participated in the project.
He loved all the students, he said.
“I told them stories about my youth, growing up in Germany during the war.”
Anhalt’s buddy Nathan Preston enjoyed Anhalt’s stories.
“Karl said he was always scared,” Nathan said. “Walking along the streets he often saw dead people.”
Cynthia Morris, 67, said she learned from the experience.
“As you get older you forget about what it’s like for youngsters growing up.”
Teacher Steve Dickens has led his class in an intergenerational project for three years in a row and said the program gets better and better every year.
The relationships seem more natural and the routines are easier to follow, he explained.
“It’s kind of nice because the longer I do this, the more apparent the impacts are. What were subtle nuances the first year aren’t that subtle now,” Dickens said.
On Wednesday the students arrived with small painted birdhouses they’d made at Scout Island to leave at Seniors Village as a reminder they’d been there this year.
They joined the seniors for a barbecue with hotdogs, chips, cake, and copious amounts of water because it was a warm day.
Senior Nancy Friesen and student Liam Lauren huddled together to look at a photo display that depicted some of the year’s activities.
Across the outdoor eating area, Trevor Jacques helped his buddy 99-year-old Anna-May Kalloch get comfortable in her chair before she ate her lunch.
As he looked around proudly Dickens said each year the dynamics change because different students and seniors are involved, but the impacts remain the same.
“It’s all about the influence of the young on the old and vice versa,” he suggested.