NORTH SALEM, N.Y.— With April showers on their shoulders, Pequenakonck Elementary School’s kindergarten classes visited their intergenerational friends at Salem Hills Rehabilitation and Nursing Center in Purdys on April 17.  It was the sixth year in a row the students visited residents to share kindness, communication, literacy, music, and smiles. 

The trip is part of the school’s unique, ongoing ONE CUB Kindness Initiative, founded by paraprofessionals Lisa Finer and Britt Togonon in 2008.

The young learners entered the arts and crafts room at Salem Hills with a book in one hand ready to read to their senior partners, and a handmade tissue paper flower in the other to present as a gift.  The friends conversed and colored together as they enjoyed each other’s company.  The trip concluded with a sing-along that included old standard tunes and a patriotic song. 

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This unique friendship has been ongoing throughout the year.  Kindergartners made “Thank you” stars in November for veteran residents at the facility.  In December, all four classes arrived with presents for every senior friend to celebrate Christmas and Hannukah.

ONE CUB has expanded beyond the kindergarten walls, as all grades at PQ participated to write personal cards and letters, make gifts and stationery, and collect water bottles to recycle.  All recycling money collected was used to purchase a gift for each of the 130 residents.  In addition, PQ families, faculty, and staff donated new items to be gifted.

In February, Chris Bockis, the Activities Director of Salem Hills, visited kindergarten classrooms along with her assistant, Victoria, dressed in costume to celebrate the birthday of Dr. Seuss.  Salem Hills gifted the kindergarten with a Dr. Seuss book as well as a very special game designed by the seniors for their young friends.  The year culminated with this wonderful trip to Salem Hills in April - a truly heartwarming experience for all!

ONE CUB has been a true team effort. Great thanks go to paraprofessionals Denise Coursen, Claudia Badia and Carole Galligan, as well as the kindergarten teaching team, for their ongoing help and support.

The mission of ONE CUB is to empower North Salem students with the knowledge that they can make a difference in our world through kindness, citizenship, problem solving, communication, and celebrating the differences in us all.  ONE CUB contributes to forming the foundation of these building blocks and skills that the students will cultivate and refine over their years at PQ, the MS/HS, and well beyond.  A happy heart is an important thing to have – always.  It all starts with ONE CUB!

Article courtesy of Britt Togonon and Lisa Finer