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Tuesday, Aug. 30, 2016

Program teaches students about service

Wednesday, October 31, 2001

Chanel Brown reads a book she created to Nellie Kruger, a resident at Clearview Nursing and Rehabilitation Center.
SIKESTON - Discovering how much simple things can mean to others is a part of the learning experience Vera Glueck doesn't want her students to miss out on.

"We feel like it's important for children at this young age to get a sense of service to the community," said the Sikeston Kindergarten principal.

With that in mind, the Kindergarten Center has started a new project called the "Golden Bulldog Pals Program" where different classes visit Clearview Nursing and Rehabilitation Center each month. On Tuesday Carrie Gordon's class made the first visit and read books which they actually created to the residents.

In November, a class will sing fall and Thanksgiving songs for the residents at Clearview. Each monthly visit will be based on the kindergarten curriculum so the students don't lose instructional time.

"To me there is nothing more precious than seeing young children and elderly people interacting," said Glueck. "They are so patient with the young children and those young children bring such joy to those older people's lives, they just light up. It's such a positive feeling to see this interaction."

Gordon is proud of her students and their willingness to participate in the project, remarking it is the perfect opportunity for the students to share with the community.

"It also helps children relate better with the older members of our society," she added. "I feel it is important for there to be mutual respect between our generations and both generations need to realize that both young and old can learn from each other. I hope through this the students learn to become responsible citizens, take pride in what they're learning and increase their self-esteem, as well."

Claudia Neal, activities director at Clearview, described how excited the residents become when young people visit and how disappointed the others look.

"They have this look like I remember my grandkids but I never see them," Neal said sadly. "They don't verbalize this, it's just the look that you see when they see kids come in and they're not coming to see them. What it does is trigger memories for them and it might not be their grandchild coming in but that child might come and give them a hug and it just makes a whole difference for them. They're talking about it days later. Anything I do here at the nursing home is mainly to trigger a memory or a thought. I think this will be a great opportunity."

Glueck pointed out we're all fearful of unfamiliar things and admits seeing several senior citizens who may be health impaired can be frightening.

"This may happen in their own family at some point but if they have those opportunities to go in and have some enjoyable times in that situation it will better prepare them for life and hopefully give them more empathy and understanding for others in different situations. It will also make them feel a little bit proud of themselves that they're able to contribute to that person's life.

"This has generated some excitement here because if you're in the education business you have a tendency to want to serve and help others and for us to be able to impart that kind of attitude to these children and let them experience it, that is very fulfilling I think," smiled Glueck. "So it's going to benefit us and our students every bit as much as it will benefit the residents."