A Senior Moment

A Senior Moment

 This morning I had the wonderful opportunity to lead a group of seniors on a tour of the Energetic Learning Campus (ELC).  This group of seniors stopped at the Pomeroy Sports Centre (PSC) to get some info from the Fort St John visitor information centre. Our ELC is located in the PSC. This group is on a 3-week bus tour to Alaska.  I must say this was the best tour I have lead through the ELC. I have completed well over 50 tours of our campus during the past three years. Some of the tour groups were students, parents, educators, trustees, CEO’s, political figures, town counselors, mayors, etc… This particular tour was so great because of the senior’s ability to show their appreciation in such a sincere way. They absolutely loved the school and showed it in a way only grandparents can. They all clapped at the end, a few personally thanked me by shaking my hand or giving me a hug. One lady held my hand like she was my grandma and told me how she loved my passion. Another lady said I should go on national TV to show all of Canada our school. It really made my day!!!!

This moment rekindled in me, the value of intergenerational relationships. The North American society needs to find ways to bridge the age gap between teens and seniors. The exchange of strength and energy for wisdom and experience between these two groups is just common sense.  This is not a new concept it was the way of our ancestors.  The Industrial Revolution was when our society started to scatter families and eliminate small villages. Since that time in history the connection between families and communities has broken down. At the ELC I would love to spark this teen and senior connection next year by arranging tours in our school with the elderly in Fort St John. I would also like to set up one day each week where seniors join us during our daily physical activity (DPA) in the morning.

There are many problems that have surfaced in our society because of this intergenerational gap. Seniors and teens are prejudice towards each other. Teens see seniors as useless, weak and of no value. The respect for the elderly has been lost. Seniors view all small groups of teens as ‘gangs’ and see the need to call the police on them. The ability to trust teenagers has been lost. The absence of contact between the two groups is evident in the lack of respect they both get in society. Society needs to find ways to establish and build a relationship with these two groups. A positive relationship will allow seniors to be educated about the challenges youth face today and teens to be informed about the aging issues of the elderly.

A well-established connection that fosters positive relationships between seniors and teens can only be helpful to the people involved and society in general.

Some benefits for teens could be:

  1. –       improvement in confidence and self-esteem
  2. –       improved community responsibility and citizenship
  3. –       knowledge of the psychological and physiological aspects of aging
  4. –       create caring relationships (feel satisfied and rewarded for brightening a               senior’s life)

Some of the benefits for the seniors could be:

  1. –       relief from isolation and depression (something to look forward to)
  2. –       validation of being able to help the youth, our next generation
  3. –       receiving the joys of conversation, touch and entertainment
  4. –       receiving regular contact with another individual
  5. –       create caring relationships (feel satisfied for brightening a teenager’s life)

This morning I gained some self-esteem and confidence in what we are doing here at the ELC.  I felt very satisfied to be able to brighten this group’s day. I was also deeply rewarded with the feeling of joy through communication and the gentle touch of a senior.  I am turning 49 soon and over the past 2 years I have had very little contact with the elderly as my grandparents have passed and my parents live on the other side of the country. If a man at 49 can gain so much from this brief encounter then imagine how our teens and seniors will benefit. We need to rethink how and where we build schools and senior care homes in the future.  If we can somehow combine them, then I am sure it will make our ancestors smile.  I sincerely hope, this wise group of seniors, experience the trip of a lifetime in Alaska. Thanks you so much for coming into my life and our school!


Sheldon Steele


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