SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ – In a show of support for the Class of 2020, residents and staff at JFK Hartwyck at Cedar Brook, a division of Hackensack Meridian Health (HMH), recently took part in the #Seniors4Seniors2020 social media campaign sponsored by the New Jersey Hospital Association. 

The #Seniors4Seniors2020 initiative, according to a press release from the association, was intended to ‘help counteract the preponderance of distressing news in a difficult time’ and ‘show the creative and vibrant side of nursing homes, assisted living residences, and other facilities that are home to senior citizens’ while also aiming to ‘engage a new group – area schools – to see and share caring messages on social media.’

“With the ongoing pandemic and new norm for all, the recreation department at JFK Hartwyck at Cedar Brook has been diligently thinking of ways to uplift the spirits of both staff and residents during this unprecedented time,” said Allison Kruk, B.A, M.A, CTRS, assistant director of recreation therapy at the Park Avenue facility, told TAPInto South Plainfield. 

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The Seniors4Seniors initiative inspired the Recreation department to develop a plan immediately and think of ways to include the Hartwyck family as a whole. This initiative allowed two different generations to come together,” she added. 

For the campaign, residents and staff in post-acute facilities were encouraged to show their support to the Class of 2020 in area high schools and colleges whose final semester of school – and perhaps other events like prom, graduation and sports – have been disrupted by creating signs, banners, and/or videos. 

At HMH JFK Hartwyck at Cedar Brook, Kruk, along with Recreation Therapist Marie Khalil, worked with residents to develop a video of congratulations and well-wishes that featured personal artwork, window murals, voice-overs, written messages, and a collaborative banner. The final product was then shared via social media platforms for the graduates of Scotch Plains-Fanwood High School, Plainfield High School, Edison’s John P. Stevens High Schoolm and South Plainfield School. 

“Residents and staff were more than excited to participate in this project in order to create something that would promote positive messages to community members,” said Kruk, adding that, in creating the video, efforts were made to showcase residents’ artistic abilities with Spanish also incorporated to meet the area’s diverse population. “They were also so excited to see how their contributions fit into the video. Our approach of creating a video not only raised curiosity but also created a strong desire to be involved.”

“The response has been wonderful,” added Karen Petrin, CTRS, MPA, LNHA, director of Huntington’s and Recreation Services at JFK Hartwyck at Cedar Brook. “With all the negative things happening, especially in and around our communities, the sadness of possibly not having a graduation, and so many people getting sick, this really was a happy thought and it was well-received.”