Begbie View students create art for seniors

Grade 5 students from Begbie View Elementary create outdoor art for residents of Moberly Manor through intergenerational project

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Violet Ryga paints on a window at Moberly Manor. Photo: Rob Buchanan

By Lisa Cyr, Revelstoke Community Response Network

Students from Begbie View Elementary are showing seniors they care by doing outdoor art for the residents of Moberly Manor. On Wednesday, May 27th, Ms. Newton’s grade 5 class visited Moberly Manor in three small groups, to draw murals on the residence’s day program and dining room area windows, while Ms. Floyd’s grade 4 class will create sidewalk chalk art on Tuesday, June 2 and Thursday, June 4th. Seeing the students create the art provides entertainment for the seniors, and the art itself sends the message that this community cares.

The artwork is part of an already-existing intergenerational learning project partnership between the school and the Revelstoke Community Response Network. The project came to a stand still when visits to the residence were no longer possible due to the pandemic.  The project includes empathy and awareness exercises, writing letters, doing activities with the seniors and sharing art, poetry and more, as well as listening to the stories seniors have to share.  The project also culminates in an Intergenerational Day Canada celebration, which usually takes place on June 1st.

Students from Ms Floyd’s class listen to Jon Augustyn as he tells stories of his time in war. Photo: Revelstoke Community Response Network

For Intergenerational Day this year, students are not only creating outdoor art – they will also create an art walk for inside the residence with poetry, video stations, art, and more, with that same theme. While the students cannot spend that time with the seniors, staff at Moberly will take pictures and videos to document the experience for the seniors, to share with the students.

Many of Ms. Newton’s students participated in last year’s visits, while in Ms. Floyd’s grade 4 class, a project she has continued on with her current grade 4 students as well.

“We did several fun activities together, and the program really encourages bonding and empathy between generations,” says Ms. Floyd. “They really enjoyed meeting and getting to know the residents and day program seniors.” She also emphasizes that the connections can help fill social gaps for children who don’t have older adults close by.

For Ms. Newton, who joined the project this year, she saw this as an opportunity for her and her students to have a positive impact in this community. “As a class, one of our main goals this year has been to be ‘forces for good’ in the world. We try to spread kindness through random acts as well as trying to see the other side of an issue before making a judgement,” she says. “Doing murals on the windows of Moberly Manor was a fun and meaningful way to be forces for good in the world.”

It’s unclear who enjoyed the activity more – the seniors, or the students.

“There’s some magic that happens when the students and seniors interact,” says Lisa Cyr CRN coordinator. “Creating positive connections and relationships is a huge part of the proactive angle I take to educate on elder abuse. There’s just no substitute for connection.”

The Revelstoke Community Response Network project is housed through the Revelstoke Women’s Shelter, and seeds to educate, advocate and facilitate inter-agency dialogue and work to eliminate the abuse, neglect or self-neglect of vulnerable adults; especially seniors.