December 3, 2023

Lessons From the Legacy Memory Project

Art Clarke, a retired teacher with student Autumn Convey.

CDHS Students Paired with Residents of Aspira Island Park

Krista Hazlewood, Island Park’s resident engagement manager, said her “favourite takeaway” from the “inter-generational connection” is the growth she sees in the students.

Article/images by John Campbell

Campbellford – Wed., June 14, 2023 – There’s a huge gap in years between the Interwar Generation and Generation Z but residents at Aspira Island Park Retirement Living and students at Campbellford District High School crossed the divide multiple times in May and learned a lot from the experience.

“I have enjoyed it immensely,” said Lois Heagle, a retired teacher. “I hope they enjoy it as much as I do because I just like people and I especially like kids.”

Art Clarke, another retired teacher, said he volunteered to take part in the Legacy Memory Project because it seemed “like a neat thing to do … and I have not been disappointed.”
He was paired with “an exceptional young lady,” Autumn Convey, and the interviews/conversations went so well that he looked forward to them each week.
He even loaned her a copy of his life story that he had written five years ago.

“I really enjoyed it,” Convey said of her time spent with Clarke. “I love learning what … people did back then and comparing it to now.” The changes that have taken place in society are “just crazy” and have had a “giant impact on everything.”

from left, Pam Donnan, teacher at CDHS and Krista Hazlewood of Island Park

The Legacy Memory Project had been running for several years when it was interrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic. It resumed this year with 19 students in Grades 11 and 12  taking part. The students, 16 to 18 years of age, had chosen Human Development Through the Lifespan as an elective course, taught by Pamela Donnan, the school’s social sciences lead.

Meeting older residents and ”listening to their story, seeing where they are in their stage of life,” helped the students “understand the curriculum a little bit better,” she said.
And what they learned is just how much different modern life is compared to what people 80 and older lived through.

Krista Hazlewood, Island Park’s resident engagement manager, said her “favourite takeaway” from the “inter-generational connection” is the growth she sees in the students.
When she picks up the students in the Island Park bus for the first time, they “drag their butts (because) they don’t know what they’re getting into and they don’t want to do it,” she said. They’re also “scared because they don’t know what’s behind these doors.”
But a “shift” occurs after that first visit and it’s obvious the next time she picks up the students in the following  weeks: They’re eager to make the trip.
“They’re laughing on the way … talking about their experiences that they had with their senior friends,” Hazlewood said.
There’s a “spark” that happens when the residents and students are “engaged,”  she said.

The residents were paired with the same students for the duration of the program. The matches were made randomly.
Donnan said the project is “really good (for the students) because it challenges them.”
It also offered them a “glimpse” into their future and how to prepare for it.
It’s “pushing their boundaries,” she said, but “they get a lot out of it in the end,” because “they are going to be working with seniors in some way, shape or form.”

Statistics Canada says changes taking place in the country’s population – “due to baby boomers getting older and immigration boosting numbers in the younger generations” —  “will have significant consequences, particularly on the labour market, services to seniors, and the consumption of goods and services.”

The 2021 census determined baby boomers, people aged 56 to 75, make up roughly one-quarter of the population, at 9.2 million.
Millennials, people aged 25 to 40, represent the fastest-growing population and now surpass 7.9 million. Generation Z, people aged 9 to 24, is the second-fastest in population growth. It passed 6.7 million two years ago.

from left, student Aurora Medeiros; Lois Heagle, retired teacher : and student Amy Burley

The Interwar Generation, people aged 76 to 93, continues to decline in numbers, and now stands at 2.7 million.
“This is a safe place for them to learn how to interact with our seniors,” Hazlewood said of the month-long project.
“It’s been a good experience,” Aurora Medeiros said. “We found out a lot about Lois and what has happened in her life.”
Amy Burley said “it’s cool” to learn what young people used to do many years ago compared to what they do now.
“It was quite different,” Medeiros said. “Was it better? Maybe in some ways but now it’s better in other ways.”

The answers the residents gave to the many questions the students  had been provided were transcribed and put into a Google Doc. Copies are provided to the residents which they can then pass along if they wish to members of their family by saying “here’s a quick snapshot of some of the things that were important in my life,” Hazlewood said.
“’I haven’t thought of some of these things for years,’” one resident told her. “’This is fantastic.’”

Donnan said they have received “wonderful feedback” from the families because they learned things about their parents they hadn’t known.

For the last session, Hazlewood suggested she and Donnan turn the table on the students by having the residents ask them “deep questions” about their lives. They were helped by one of the residents in drawing up the questions. “

They were designed to “ encourage the students to do some self reflection and forward thinking,” Hazlewood said.






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