There’s a good chance you went to preschool when you were younger, but you probably didn’t go to one like the Intergenerational Learning Center in Seattle. This center is both a nursing home for the elderly and a preschool for young kids — and it's proving that no matter how many years divide you from another person, you can still be BFFs.
It’s a sad fact that elderly people are sometimes kept out of society and denied attention. For some of those people, being left alone in a nursing home can lead to depression and mental deterioration.
To solve this problem, residents at the Intergenerational Learning Center's nursing home spend their days interacting with the center's preschool kids. They read, work on arts and crafts, and even dance together. The experiment was so successful for both the kids and the adults that Seattle University Adjunct Professor Evan Briggs decided to make a documentary about it.
Briggs explained that the people of the nursing home had a "Complete transformation in the presence of the children. Moments before the kids came in, sometimes the people seemed half alive, sometimes asleep. It was a depressing scene. As soon as the kids walked in for art or music or making sandwiches for the homeless or whatever the project that day was, the residents came alive."
The doc, titled “Present Perfect,” received the necessary funding on Kickstarter with more than two weeks left until the deadline. To get the full scope of all heartfelt sweetness seen at the center, you’ll have to watch the film, but Briggs did talk a bit about what she’s seen.
“One experience in particular occurred during a morning visit between the toddler classroom and several residents who had gathered to sing songs together,” she recalled. “Everyone had just finished a rendition of ‘You Are My Sunshine’ when one of the residents began to share a memory he had of singing that very same song late at night on a bus full of soldiers while serving overseas during World War II.”
“And though the kids were too young to understand his words, the fact that their presence provided a catalyst for his recollection just seemed to fit in a ‘circle of life’ kind of way,” she continued. “Those small, quiet moments are often the ones that contain the most meaning . . .”
Even if you’re way too old to be in preschool, you can still totally go hang out at your closest senior center -- you might be surprised how many fun and touching moments you find there. And if this story has you feeling inspired to do arts and crafts or organize other creative activities with some local seniors, go for it!
You're never too old for a new BFF.