Merrill Gardens at Monterey (CA) residents recently partnered with students from the 5th grade English class at a nearby elementary school to share their life stories. The students spent time with the residents, conducting a series of interviews to document their stories.
The community has a strong relationship with the Stevenson School and they've enjoyed monthly visits over the years from students in a variety of grade levels. The project undertaken by these fifth graders provided an inspiring connection and resulted in some new intergenerational friendships.
Nine of the students in the class were partnered with residents, and were tasked with documenting their life stories. The students visited the community for a series of interviews, learning about the resident's childhood memories, education, military service, favorite jobs, worst jobs, what made them happy, what their most difficult life experience has been and ending with advice the residents would give to the elementary students.
At the final student visit, the community hosted a celebration and each student shared what they learned about their new friend.
“It was the sweetest thing and many of us were in tears. I cannot describe how happy our residents were to have a young child share their life experiences in such a creative way. It was truly an amazing project,” said Ruby Perez, Merrill Gardens at Monterey Active Living Program Director.
The students even brought residents gifts based on what they shared. A WWII veteran got a mug, another resident got a cozy blanket as she likes to sit near the fireplace, and another received fresh flowers. The students and residents shared contact information with each other, and said they plan to stay in touch through letters.