To The Editor,

We would like this opportunity to make our opinions known to your readers. We believe there is a major issue in our social community that needs to be addressed. We are encouraging your readers who are parents of children in elementary school, Middle School, and High school to take time and let your children know how important it is to spend time with the older generation. It’s time we put down our phones and find an hour of our time to give back to our senior citizens living in nursing homes and rehabilitation centers.

Our names are Elise Ruggiero and Danielle Fernandez. We are 8th graders at Chatham Middle School. We recently completed our Girl Scout Silver Award Project where we volunteered playing music for the residents of CareOne Livingston. It was an amazing experience for us that we want to share and encourage our peers to do the same. Our idea for our Silver Award Project was inspired after the summer of 2015 when a loved one of one of us stayed in the rehabilitation nursing home at CareOne Livingston. Personal experience showed us how much joy youth visitors bring the senior citizens.

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We also noticed that patients do not get many visitors during the week, and how therapeutic music can be. Since July, we have each spent over 50 hours on our project, Bridging the Generations Through Music. Our goal was to offer a series of mid-week duet performances using a variety of instruments that we both play. The majority of these performances were at CareOne Livingston. We also took time to research and transpose music selections, and creating intergenerational social opportunities. With each performance, we noticed a positive difference with the senior citizens. The smiled more, sang, hummed, started conversations, and became obviously happier. Although we put a lot of preparation and work into our project, our visits along with our music were simple. Our one-hour visits made such an impact on all of us and it was an amazing use of our time after school.

Only one hour of our time!

We all have one day that first hour after school that is void of any official activities. We often use this free time to relax, go on our phones, or even socialize with our friends. It’s time to stop wasting this hour and use it to give back to those who gave us so much. Our seniors are our heroes that served to fight for our freedom. They are our parents’ teachers, our retired police officers, and firefighters. They once were our coaches, scientists, doctors, and local business owners. They made the communities we live in today that we love so much. They need us now and it is time to give them the gift of our time and talents. Through this project, we learned that our seniors living in nursing homes and rehab centers need kids our age, and we are not too young to make a real difference.

Please encourage your children to share their time and talents with the seniors living in nursing centers. Maybe your children’s talent is dance, art, singing, storytelling, sports, or even Legos! The senior citizens in nursing homes are no longer able to live independently but they are still the same people that have given us so much. There are many nursing homes in our area in addition to CareOne and we know your children have gifts of their own to share.

Please encourage them to just give up an hour of their time to volunteer. We know it will leave a lasting impact on our senior neighbors’ quality of life. It will also be a wonderful experience for your children AND you!