Students, seniors make time for each other

The residents enjoy interacting withthe children, too.
& lt;a & gt;By JOHN W. GOODWIN JR & lt;/a & gt;.
BOARDMAN -- Time is no barrier between fourth-grade pupils at Robinwood Elementary and residents at Beeghly Oaks nursing home on Market Street.
Once a month, two dozen fourth-grade boys and girls board a bus to travel more than the few miles from their elementary school building to the nursing home -- they take a mental trip through time, socializing with people who had experienced eight decades of life before the youngsters were even born.
Once the yellow bus comes to a stop in front of the nursing home, young people pour out, running for the door in hopes of getting a seat at a table with their favorite nursing-home resident. Lynn Melone, Beeghly Oaks activity director, said the kids each have their favorite residents and the residents have their favorite kids. The groups are usually eager to see each other, she said.
What they take from it
Robinwood teacher Janet Zorman said the kids learn a lot from the monthly visits to the nursing home.
"We are teaching these kids to give back to the community. Kids now are so self-absorbed, and I think it's time they learn to give back," she said. "They look forward to coming here, and it is interesting to see the different things they hear from some of the people here."
Many of the things the kids hear from the residents are virtually unimaginable to the average 10-year-old -- dirt roads and life without an in-house telephone. Bailey Kochalko, 10, was surprised at the answers to some of her past questions.
"When we come, we ask a lot of questions, and they tell us that a lot of them didn't have electricity and stuff like that until they were old."
Kochalko did not say exactly what age "old" is.
Visits can continue
With the end of the school year approaching, May will be the last month the kids will be brought to the nursing home from school, but Melone said the door will still be open to the youngsters to visit. She said the kids have grown, seeing the nursing home and those who live there in a different way.
"The kids are cute. They are so comfortable here," she said. "The biggest thing is getting kids to understand that a nursing home is not the death place it has been described as; it is someone's home, and they see that."
Several residents, Melone said, are former teachers and relish interaction with the children.
The children and seniors pair off and do various crafts. Then they enjoy a snack, conversation and play with the various pets that also visit the nursing home.
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