Runnymede Healthcare Centre's Intergenerational Program

July 05, 2018

​Kindergarten students from Swansea Public School spent an entire week at Runnymede Healthcare Centre as part of an innovative intergenerational program that provides social benefits to both children and patients.

The week-long program, “Kids in the Community,” integrated the kindergarten curriculum into its itinerary and featured a shared mealtime with patients every day.

Matching kindergarten students with seniors fosters an increased understanding between generations. The enthusiasm the children bring when they visit has an extremely positive impact on the patient experience, boosting patients’ engagement when they interact with the children. The intergenerational program also has emotional benefits, with the goal of increasing the emotional health and well-being of all participants.

“We have patients who aren’t so social at other times, but when the class visits, they talk nonstop,” said Sarah King, Runnymede’s manager of activation and volunteer services. “These kids bring a new energy and a new life to the hospital when they come. You can see it just by our patients’ faces lighting up when they see them.”

In turn, the program provides children with an opportunity to develop a greater appreciation for senior citizens and become comfortable around people with some level of disability.

“This program is amazing,” said Esther De Andres, whose daughter Iris is a student at Swansea. “She doesn’t have her grandparents around so it has been really special for her to spend time with the patients.”

The intergenerational program was established at Runnymede in 2015 in partnership with a local elementary school. The hospital currently enjoys monthly visits during the school year from the students at Swansea, who visit with Runnymede’s patients and share in special activities, such as arts and crafts projects.

Special funding for Kids in the Community was provided by the Toronto District School Board’s department of Experiential Learning.

“Anything that takes the kids out into the community is a great thing,” said school board trustee Robin Pilkey. “And anything that helps kids learn about differences is great for them.”

Kindergarten students from Swansea Public School spent an entire week at Runnymede Healthcare Centre as part of an innovative intergenerational program that provides social benefits to both children and patients.

The week-long program, "Kids in the Community," integrated the kindergarten curriculum into its itinerary and featured a shared mealtime with patients every day.

Matching kindergarten students with seniors fosters an increased understanding between generations. The enthusiasm the children bring when they visit has an extremely positive impact on the patient experience, boosting patients' engagement when they interact with the children. The intergenerational program also has emotional benefits, with the goal of increasing the emotional health and well-being of all participants.

"We have patients who aren't so social at other times, but when the class visits, they talk nonstop," said Sarah King, Runnymede's manager of activation and volunteer services. "These kids bring a new energy and a new life to the hospital when they come. You can see it just by our patients' faces lighting up when they see them."

In turn, the program provides children with an opportunity to develop a greater appreciation for senior citizens and become comfortable around people with some level of disability.

"This program is amazing," said Esther De Andres, whose daughter Iris is a student at Swansea. "She doesn't have her grandparents around so it has been really special for her to spend time with the patients."

The intergenerational program was established at Runnymede in 2015 in partnership with a local elementary school. The hospital currently enjoys monthly visits during the school year from the students at Swansea, who visit with Runnymede's patients and share in special activities, such as arts and crafts projects.

Special funding for Kids in the Community was provided by the Toronto District School Board's department of Experiential Learning.

"Anything that takes the kids out into the community is a great thing," said school board trustee Robin Pilkey. "And anything that helps kids learn about differences is great for them."

Pictured: ​Kindergarten students from Swansea Elementary brought new energy to the patients at Runnymede Healthcare Centre during the hospital’s week-long intergenerational program.

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