“Oh! Everyone has a heart,” exclaimed Marge Manley, watching the children chalk Valentine’s Day messages from floor-to-ceiling windows in the Bridges of Warwick residential community.
“It’s just nice to see young people and they’re very talented,” said another resident, Naomi Yoman.
“All of these social, emotional lessons we teach in school are played out when children get into awkward situations, such as trying to engage in dialogue and interact with someone older,” said Jared Hottenstein, a 5th grade teacher.
He started bringing his class to a senior home five years ago.
During the pandemic, children waved from the yard and painted on the windows instead of visiting the elders face to face.
“You think of the residents here, they had no interaction through COVID,” he said. “If we could just put a smile on their faces, it’s all worth it.”
Before Hattenstein started this project, he already knew two things: that these visits will bring a lot of joy to the elderly and they will give children important life lessons.
However, he did not expect how they would affect him personally.
“I think it has rejuvenated me as a teacher. It reminds you of what is really important in education,” he said. “It teaches kids to connect and connect with people who are different.”
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