SOUTH PLAINFIELD - South Plainfield High School Advanced Placement (AP) World History students treated the community’s senior citizens to an afternoon of games, music and raffle prizes from 2p.m. to 4p.m. on Thursday, June 21st at the South Plainfield Senior Center. The students’ assignment to do a community service project had the added benefit of raising awareness about elder abuse.
“We came up with idea by thinking of problems that are in our world today and how they relate to World History, which is the subject we are doing this for,” said Tyler Balent, student. “This cause is important to me and my classmates because we feel that the elderly are not treated with as much respect as they used to and there tends to not to be as much funding to help with the health of the elderly.”
Apart from planning a fun afternoon and completing their assignment, the students raised awareness and funds for the prevention of elder abuse.
“The college board which creates the AP exam for their class have a distinction where the students can earn community service if they do some sort of project related to World History,” said Miten Shah, Social Studies Teacher. “I asked the students to pick a topic, something that they are interested in. They said they want to do something related to elderly causes and they asked if they could do this.”
The class of ten freshman who organized the event included: Sarai Adams, Joel Arias, Tyler Balent, Olivia Glynn, Torrie Reed, Alyssa Rivera, Mark Santiago, Nicholas Seurai, Justin Sogbo, and Emily Wong.
“The assignment addresses a problem that currently exists locally and globally,” said Wong, student. “In our case, game day is meant to signify filial piety, a concept of respecting elders used in the Chinese Dynasties. It also is meant to bring awareness to elder abuse.”
Elder abuse can take various forms such as physical and emotional abuse, neglect, abandonment, financial abuse and healthcare fraud. The students wanted to enlighten their peers as to the importance of respecting the older generation and enjoying their company.
“This is an important topic for me because sometimes my generation tends to view the elderly just as weak and old,” said Adams. “When actually, they are so much more than what younger people perceive them to be. By hosting this event, my class and I want to shine a light on the elderly community, and we also hope that we acknowledge their importance to society.”
Seniors and students, along with their teacher, enjoyed playing Monopoly, Uno, Yahtzee, and Poker while DJ Xavier Brown, a junior at South Plainfield High School, handled the entertainment.
“Our class was brainstorming many ideas from food drives to creating care packages for soldiers,” said Wong. “We settled on a game day at the Senior Center as not only did we have the most ideas for, but also because it was something we felt passionate about. Often times, seniors are left out so through our game day, our goal is to make it an afternoon the seniors will not forget due to how amazing it was and make them all smile.”
“This was a great experience and it’s so nice to see young people putting something together especially for us seniors,” said Marie Piesche. “It’s been very enjoyable. They also played with us. One little girl took forever to get out of jail!”
“The kinds of activities we planned for the included different types of games laid out at various tables, where the seniors can play,” said Adams, student. “We also set up a karaoke machine so that the seniors can sing if they wanted.”
The class approached several businesses in the community to ask for raffle donations.
“We went around and asked for donations,” said Balent. “People were generous around town. We got good raffle prizes for the people.”
“They were really active about the raffle,” said Shah. “And it’s also testament to this South Plainfield community, pretty much every business that they called gave some sort of donation, which is really great.”
Raffle prizes included: two $25 gift cards to Stop & Shop, two $5 gift cards to Petrucci’s Ice Cream, $10 gift card for Zen Nail Spa, one free large pizza from Ciccio’s Pizzeria, $50 off coupon for Home Depot, $25 gift card for Target, $25 gift card for Rodolfo’s Pizzeria, $25 gift card for Sam’s Club, two $20 gift cards for Bagel Bazaar, two complimentary lunches for Hometown Heros Sub Shop, and two paris of hanging flower baskets.
“Once we had a rough idea of what we wanted to do, we began calling local businesses for donations,” said Wong. “It was really heartwarming knowing that South Plainfield people and neighboring towns support one another. Businesses were often generous donating gift cards or food. We worked right up until the event to make sure Game Day will be a huge success.”
“The raffle tickets raised money for the World Health Organization and distribute prizes given to us by different businesses as donations,” said Adams.
As Game Day came to a close, those who attended left with prizes and smiles after an afternoon of friendly board games.
“It went pretty well,” said Balent. “The people enjoyed it. We did expect a little bit more people, but it was a good turnout.”
“I think this went really well,” said Rivera, student. “We started planning it and at first it was kind of rocky and we thought it wasn’t going to go too well, but then it ended up being really fun. I’m glad we got to see all the seniors smile.”
“I think they did a great job,” said Nancy Murray. “I’m prejudice because my granddaughter was one of the students who helped organize the event. They really worked together and pulled it off really nice. Everyone seemed like they had a great time. There was a lot of laughter and fun.”
Proceeds from Game Day at the Senior Center went to the United Nations Foundation and the World Health Organization. The link to donate is: https://www.gofundme.com/raising-money-for-elder-abuse-awareness.
“The Senior Center has been very generous to my class and I for allowing us to use the place as a venue for our event, ” said Adams. “Additionally, they have been very supportive in helping us host our event. We would like to thank our AP World History teacher, Mr. Shah, for giving my class and I this opportunity,”
“They did amazingly well,” said Shah. “There wasn’t a lot of time to finish it and this is the smallest the the three classes, so just the ten of them banded together really well. They divvied up the responsibilities well and they all played a role in making this happen. It was cool seeing them having fun, but also doing some good for our community.”