I’ve been facilitating the Honoring Elders Project for 5 years.
This year, I intended to scale back, after taking on a dozen or so classrooms, last year. My intentions were thwarted, when I got the opportunities to work with the Aging and Disability Resource Center (ADRC), the YMCA after school program (again), the Brown County Library, and schools like Aldo Leopold, Langlade, Howe, Tank, and Southwest High School. I had only worked with high schoolers, on the project, one time prior. So, when my sister-in-law asked if I would work with her freshman Language Arts classrooms, at Southwest, I wanted to try it out! I’m so glad that I did.
These students reminded me why I do the project. They gave me that same feeling, that I first had, when I started the project, while listening to them talk about the elders they met. The excitement as they left the assisted living homes, talking about their new friend that they had interviewed, how cool and interesting these elders were, and all the amazing stories that they had heard, brought me so much joy. And I knew that they would repeat these stories. And that these stories would live on. The students really jumped in, and did exactly what I had hoped. It works with high schoolers! It *maybe* even works better than little kids.
These students created narratives, along with the photos that they took, to gift back to the elders at both Cottonwood Manor and Woodside Manor. I know that it wouldn’t have been possible without Bethany Counard. It was so easy to go into her classrooms. I was so in awe of her teaching. I thought in my head, you can not have any ego while teaching high schoolers. And she doesn’t. She didn’t. She was really great with them. They’re lucky to have her. And the pieces of writing show that. The activity directors at the assisted living homes were so great to work with, too! Hannah at Woodside is wonderful. I’m so happy to have met her. I’m also really grateful for these kids for jumping in to this project and reminding me why I do it. The elders were giving with their time and stories. I hope that we did them justice. I really believe in the Honoring Elders Project, as a way to connect these generations. And it’s not only about respecting elders, and hearing stories. That is apparent. The project is also beneficial for older people to be able to see younger people, face to face, as a future, outside of the lens with which they’re often painted. It was a win all around. I hope everyone walked away with a memorable and positive experience. I’d love to continue with Southwest, in the future. And I wanted to share some of the photos that I took, when the kids went to Woodside and Cottonwood Manors:
“It has always been a happy thought to me that the creek runs on all night, new every minute, whether I wish it or know it or care, as a closed book on a shelf continues to whisper to itself its own inexhaustible tale.” – Annie Dillard