By Gillian Slade on June 5, 2018.
A seniors’ retirement residence and a daycare provider have teamed up to create an intergenerational daycare centre in Medicine Hat.
There are online reports of research showing the health and social benefits of the arrangements that can help to bridge the generation gap. It is often an ideal way for children to understand an older generation while seniors can enjoy their energy and exuberance.
“From our perspective the children bring spontaneity, and spontaneity is the antidote for boredom,” said Linda Hygard, managing director Chinook Village.
For Mother Nature’s Preschool Inc., it feels as though “it was meant to be,” said owner Sherry Jean.
The basement of Elm Street School has been the home of Mother Nature’s Preschool for some time but that location was no longer available and Jean had been looking for an alternative.
Jean was already very comfortable with the idea of an intergenerational daycare when Hygard called with a suggestion.
Hygard had previously observed the success of intergenerational daycare in Saskatchewan so when there was talk of moving the administrative offices closer to the residents, which was going to free up space between the licensing centre and the main entrance to Chinook, it looked like a perfect match.
The daycare entrance is separate from the entrance to Chinook but there will still be internal access to that part of the building, making for easy interaction.
Seniors who want to observe or interact with the children will be welcome to do so. There will also be some planned activities with Chinook residents involving recreational therapists and residents. In small groups the children will enjoy baking with seniors, perhaps doing a little woodwork, reading together and even spending time in the beautiful atrium garden.
“It’s my dream come true,” said Jean.
Seniors who would rather not participate do not have to.
The new daycare centre will not open until early in the new year. Chinook is making preparations for renovations to accommodate the new administrative offices and will vacate its current space at the end of October. Mother Nature’s will then need about two months to do its renovations before moving in.
However, during the summer some preparations will begin. The small garden area behind the new daycare space will be fenced off to create a secure play area. Doors from this into the daycare will also be put in place.
Jean expects to be able to accommodate about 50 children when everything is in place.
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