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Ellen Petersson's kindergarten class visited 'Grandfriend' Don at the Bell Park forest almost every day this year as part of Ray Shepherd Elementary's G is for Grandfriend program, connecting students with local seniors.
The BC Retired Teachers Association has honoured two Ray Shepherd Elementary teachers with the Golden Star Award for G is for Grandfriend, a program that connects students with seniors in the community.
Ellen Petersson and Lisa Tomé were recognized for their work in developing rich and transforming relationships with seniors during a very challenging time. Though G is for Grandfriend has been running for several years, it was adapted to find new ways to connect this past school year during the pandemic.
"Over the past number of years, I have watched the Ray Shepherd kindergarteners perfect intergenerational relationships with the seniors in our community," said Surrey Board of Education Trustee Laurae McNally, who attended the virtual award ceremony. "The intergenerational project is a two-way street, as some of the children do not have their own grandparents close by, and during this pandemic, even if they do, they may not have been able to see them."
This past school year, Petersson's kindergarten class walked to nearby Bell Park almost daily, where they met Grandfriend Don and built a friendship, sharing stories and activities together.
Prior to COVID-19, Tomé's Grade 3/4 class visited the Evergreen Heights Assisted Living seniors home regularly to do activities and crafts with residents. When the pandemic started, they made cards for the seniors instead, maintaining a caring connection in a difficult time when the residents often couldn't have visitors or see their family.
"Before the pandemic, they had monthly visits with the seniors sharing all forms of arts and crafts, stories and music," said McNally. "The seniors just love to see them!"
The BCRTA awarded Petersson and Tomé with the Golden Star Award in recognition of these ongoing connections and lasting friendships before and throughout the pandemic.
Congratulations, and thank you for your hard work to create student-senior relationships in the community!
Lisa Tomé's Grade 3/4 class celebrates receiving the Golden Star Award during the virtual awards ceremony in June.