On Thursday, March 6, Kent Place second grade students from Gina Ferraioli’s and Karen Libera’s class visited SAGE Eldercare in Summit as part of a sensitivity training and community event, bringing with them the theme of springtime flowers.
Marianne Kranz, SAGE Eldercare Director of Volunteers and Home Support Services, met with the students and talked with them about growing older and some of the challenges of aging. She asked for them to give their general perceptions about aging and second grade student Carson Didden of Morristown noted, “Older people can remember things from long ago better and their short-term memory is not as good.” Ms. Kranz also gave the students a variety of glasses which simulated some form of vision difficulty typically found in older adults.
Ahead of time, the teachers read “Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge,” a book by Mem Fox about a young boy who tries to discover the meaning of “memory” so he can restore that of an elderly friend. Deanna Butters, SAGE Eldercare Director of the Spend-A-Day Adult Day Health Center, reviewed the book and explained some of the challenges that occur when you start to lose your memories.
“I was impressed by the students, who came prepared with questions to ask of our members while they worked on a craft project. Asking questions is a good method of tapping into the memories of older adults. We explained to the students that as people age, they may need to adjust the way they learn to help them remember things. Additionally, we talked about the benefits of socialization and how it helps to bring those memories back,” noted Ms. Butters.
The Kent Place teachers and students also toured SAGE’s facilities, including a stop in the Meals On Wheels kitchen to learn about the meal delivery program. Ahead of time, the girls had made vases filled with paper flowers, which were given to MOW clients the next day.
The students came with specific questions to ask the Spend-A-Day clients, such as what hobbies they liked, where they grew up, and stories about their childhood memories. While they asked these questions of the Spend-A-Day clients, they worked side-by-side to create a bulletin board decorated with spring flowers.
“The students were excited to come and do something new. We try to incorporate community service into our curriculum and the students enjoy it. The visit made the classroom learning experience more real,” stated Gina Ferraioli, one of the second grade Kent Place teachers.
“Five years ago, Christine Hayward, a Meals On Wheels volunteer and local Summit resident, brought up the idea of a sensitivity training program with Lincoln-Hubbard Elementary School fifth grade students when her oldest child was in the class. It was also her idea to bring the Kent Place second grade students in for a similar session and that is how this event came to be,” noted Ms. Kranz. “Last year, SAGE presented her entire family with the Agnes N. Badgley Award for their dedication and volunteer contributions to the organization.”
Sensitivity training for families will also be part of SAGE’s upcoming Community Day on Saturday, March 29 from 10 am to 2 pm. The sessions will be offered every hour on the half-hour, starting at 10:30 am.
Many other activities, including fire and police safety tips, dog adoptions, health screenings, yoga class, tai chi demonstration, nutritional cooking demonstration, crafts, and more, will be offered during this free event for individuals of all ages. More details on the event, which marks the 60th Anniversary of SAGE in the community, can be found at www.sageeldercare.org.
For more information on sensitivity training at SAGE, please call 908.273.5554.