Eighteen Upper Canada College Senior Kindergarten students and 11 seniors from Christie Gardens Retirement Residence took part in a recent exchange program.
“The boys were inquiring into the central idea that living things grow and change when their needs are met,” says SK teacher Laura Heyes. “This inter-generational opportunity allowed the boys to further develop their awareness and understanding of the world around them, to develop empathy and to develop the life-long mindset of responsibility and ability to make change in the world.”
The boys’ hour-long visit to Christie Gardens included them serving tea to the residents, sharing their learning about life cycles, stretching and exercising, and having the seniors share important artifacts.
The boys were then responsible for planning an hour-long return visit to UCC by the seniors.
“The boys recognized that their senior friends would not want to walk far or up any stairs, so they selected a space on the main floor near the entrance and washrooms,” says Heyes. “They identified that, in all phases of life, nutrition is important, so they ordered fruit and water as part of the shared snack.”
The boys served the seniors tea in the Bitove Lounge, shared personal artifacts, decorated plant pots with their visitors and transplanted a pansy into the pot so the seniors could take them as a parting gift. The seniors also read a story to the students about plants and gardening.
“Throughout the visit, the teachers stepped back and allowed the boys to take ownership of the visit,” says Heyes. “They knew the agenda and moved from one activity to another at their own pace.
“Students who finished early, and whose senior buddy was able, toured their buddy through our classroom and introduced them to our newly hatched chicks.
“This experience offered the boys to further develop their sense of autonomy and the senior visitors graciously followed the boys’ lead.”
Several boys in the class were also involved in the Kids Pay It Forward campaign to sell honey to raise funds to support the Yee Hong Centre for Geriatric Care. They organized a honey sale at UCC during morning and afternoon recess and at dismissal on April 25. The cost for each jar was $10 and the boys raised $630.
“The community response to the ‘action’ efforts of our youngest learners is monumental in terms of the impact it has on developing empathy and the life-long mindset of responsibility and ability to make change in the world,” says Heyes.
“We want to thank the community for supporting their sale and also joining us in commending our youngest boys by stopping them in the halls to ask about their efforts and to emphasize the significance of their actions.”