As published in the Oakridge Community Echo Newsletter…
There is a wonderful program that has been connecting students and seniors within Oakridge
for many years now. Louis Riel started a volunteer based ‘Grandparent Program’ (and no need
to be a grandparent, anyone is welcome) over 12 years ago.
It was created as a way to increase literacy in the classroom and connect students with seniors. Seniors are invited into the elementary classrooms to read with students in small groups or one-to-one. Over the years
it has evolved into so much more than that! When I walk through the hallways today, I see
these amazing grandparents helping in the classroom or where ever help is needed: reading
one-to-one with students; helping with word work; and making wonderful connections with the
Louis Riel students.
On a personal note, I have three children in the elementary program at Louis Riel and knowing that their Grandma will be in their classroom on Monday is what gets them out of bed in the morning. They talk about how they love when the Grandparents are there because they help them zip up their coats or get their mittens on. My eldest son’s favourite part is when grandparents share a story of their childhood with him.
They all absolutely adore their time with these volunteers.
One Grandma volunteer, Grandma D, who has been with the program for 10 years says she does it because she loves being with the students. She appreciates that this program allows students and seniors an opportunity to interact with each other, something that doesn’t automatically happen in our generation.
Many of the grandparents have grandchildren in the school and it is an extra special way for them to spend time with them. Others are seniors or grandparents whose grandchildren do not attend Louis Riel, but they just want to keep busy, give back to the community… and let me tell you there is something incredibly special about watching friendships grow between the young and older generations.
I foresee this program running for many years to come. We continue to welcome new volunteers
and are continually grateful for such valuable connections made within the program.