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This Amazing Seattle Preschool Also Doubles as an Elderly Nursing Home

A facility in Seattle has come up with an innovative way of caterung to both the very young and the old.  They’ve paired up a preschool with an elderly nursing home, so that the children and the 400-odd residents at the home have an amazing time with each other.

The preschool, called the Intergenerational Learning Center, is located within Providence Mount St. Vincent senior care center in West Seattle. For five days a week, the kids interact with the residents in fun activities like dancing, art, music, lunch, storytelling, or sometimes just visiting.

According to Evan Briggs, a filmmaker and adjunct professor at Seattle University, who is planning to make a film about the unique center, the elders undergo a “complete transformation in the presence of the children.” She noticed that just moments before the kids came in, some of them seemed half alive. “It was a depressing scene. As soon as the kids walked in for art or music or making sandwiches for the homeless or whatever the project that day was, the residents came alive.”

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And the kids, she said, were quite happy too, and surprisingly patient and understanding. Like when a young boy named Max met an elderly resident, John. John had to ask Max to repeat his name several times, but still couldn’t get it right, calling him Mack, Matt, and Match. “But Max was just so patient, he just kept repeating his name over and over,” Briggs said. She described the moments between the kids and the residents as “sweet, some awkward, some funny – all of them poignant and heartbreakingly real.”

Briggs has chosen to name the film Present Perfect, which is a reference to the contrast between the lives of the preschoolers – with almost no past and a lot of future ahead – and the elderly – with a rich past but very little future. The present is the only realm they get to share. “It’s also about being in the present moment, something so many adults struggle with,” she added.

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And although most of the kids’ parents didn’t particularly choose this preschool for its senior interaction program, they eventually realised the positive impact it has had on their kids. “It’s got a great reputation and great teachers,” Briggs explained. “One father told me that he especially sees it now that his own parents are aging.”

Briggs ran a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds for her film. “Shooting this film and embedding myself in the nursing home environment also allowed me to see with new eyes just how generationally segregated we’ve become as a society,” she wrote on the campaign page. “And getting to know so many of the amazing residents of the Mount really highlighted the tremendous loss this is for us all.”

 

The preschool, in Briggs’s view, is a “genius” idea and “well within our reach” to implement on a larger scale. “It’s a great example of how we integrate the elderly into society.” Meanwhile, the campaign received international attention – nearly 2,000 backers contributed $104,388 towards making the film. It is now in the editing stage and will be released sometime next year.

Sources: ABC News, TODAY