The fifth grade class at Dunkirk School No. 3 sang 'You Are My Sunshine' and learned 'Let Me Call You Sweetheart' for the residents of St. Vincent's of Dunkirk Adult Home. These students have been pen pals with these residents for over four months and were finally given the chance to meet one another.
After the students sang, they shared crackers, cookies and juice with their pen pals. "St. Vincent's needed 10 pen pals," Angela DiCara, 5th grade teacher of School No. 3 explained. "I had 10 students volunteer, and now we have all 24 kids writing."
While writing to the residents, the students were able to find out more about war life and they not only listen to their stories, but understand the different lifestyle and challenges they had to face growing up.
OBSERVER Photos by Jennifer Peters
Dunkirk School No. 3 fifth graders visited the pen pals at St. Vincent's that they have been writing to for months for the first time.
OBSERVER Photo by Jennifer Peters
Pictured are a few residents with Activities Aide Chelsie Ozga (center).
The only funding that was needed was bus transportation, and Chelsie Ozga, Activities Aide at St. Vincent's and senior Music Therapy Major at SUNY Fredonia, personally brought the letters back and forth from School No. 3 and St. Vincent's.
"It is important for kids to see what older adults are like," Ozga said. "The start of this program was for people losing their abilities and to help with writing and communication skills."
St. Vincent's is for assisted living residents; because some are lacking skills that they once had, with this pen pal program, the kids were able to read them their letters. Ozga said she assists the residents in writing if needed.
This program not only helps the students interact with adults, but it also aids the residents with their self-esteem. "They get lonely or down on their abilities," Ozga stated. "Patients with Alzheimer's and Dementia have their spirits lifted by these children." Ozga also works at the Absolut Care of Dunkirk on the weekends and hopes to have a pen pal program there too.
As the fifth graders got on the bus to go back to school, the residents at St. Vincent's Adult Home continued to have smiles on their faces. The majority of the students told Ozga that they want to continue writing to their pen pals in the sixth grade. This not only had a significant impact on these children and their interaction with adults, but also left these residents with new friends to keep in their hearts forever.
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