New West daycare and seniors home forge special relationship

Some of the Royal City’s youngest and oldest citizens are forging a special relationship through music and other activities.

Graham Montessori Daycare staff recently started bringing small groups of the children to Royal City Manor to introduce them to residents of the long-term care home and familiarize them with the surroundings prior to a concert for residents.

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“It was a new environment for them. After the concert we kept bringing them there. You know what? They are crying to go there,” said Mila Rodova, manager of Graham Montessori Daycare’s Jamieson Court location. “They really love going there.”

At Serenade for Seniors, a special multicultural concert for Canada Day, kids aged three to five sang songs in a number of languages including English, French, Russian, Romanian, Korean and Chinese. Afterwards they enjoyed a variety of activities together.

“We did notice how the seniors reacted. You could see their eyes getting warmer and brighter,” Rodova said. “Kids were really enjoying it. They were so excited.”

Although the visits come with a cost to the daycare – Graham Montessori must bring in extra staff to meet staffing ratios at the centre when other teachers take the kids to the centre – principal Olga Gorenchtein supports the program. 

“We believe it is very important for children. They learn how to interact with others, how to accept a little bit different people, how to treat others with respect. They don’t see a lot of people who are older,” Rodova said. “There is a great benefit for seniors.”

Yvonne Eamor, who helps promote events at Royal City Manor, said it’s been “heartbreakingly touching” to watch the seniors come alive as soon as the children enter the building.

“It’s a win-win situation for both. The children will learn empathy and compassion; residents could become secondary grandparents to children who may not have grandparents, or whose grandparents live in another country,” she wrote in an email to the Record. “It’s hoped this will also become an innovative way to ensure seniors aren’t forgotten, especially those with cognitive challenges.”

Graham Montessori Daycare hopes to continue building a relationship with Royal City Manor though events like a summer picnic and Halloween and Christmas activities.

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