By Brenda Maguire
BRISTOL — It was a gathering of young and old Wednesday at the Ingraham Manor Skilled Nursing Facility where a group of seniors were commended for their participation in the Young at Heart program.
The program brings together older adults with preschool students from the Bristol Hospital Child Development Center to create friendships.
The program, which meets the third Monday of each month at the nursing facility on North Main Street, has the children and seniors participate in activities such as baking, arts and crafts, reading and dancing.
Wednesday’s event was held as a thank you to the senior participants in the program who help the 3- to 5-year-olds learn about diversity and improve their behavior.
The seniors were told the event was to recognize the preschool students who are graduating to kindergarten this year. However, the basket of diplomas that Kurt Barwis, president and CEO of Bristol Hospital, passed out were actually certificates for the seniors.
“I think that these intergenerational programs are great for the seniors and the kids,” Barwis said. “From the senior prospective it’s a great activity and they love kids and there are development benefits for the kids.”
Following the event, the children got a chance to spend time with their senior friends during an ice cream social.
The program was created by preschool teacher Mary Sargent and the head of Ingraham’s recreational department, Judy Cesarski. Sargent and therapeutic recreation assistant Tanya Boutot organize the activities for Young at Heart. Also assisting is Chris Badenhop, a preschool teacher who helps with the organization of Young at Heart.
“It’s been a thrill to work with the recreational department on this,” Sargent said. “It’s been a huge success and we’re very proud of it.”