We’ve been fortunate enough to find willing partners and participants in administrators, teachers and children from the Manoa Valley Church preschool and after-school programs, Punana Leo o Manoa Hawaiian immersion school, Mid-Pacific Institute, Punahou School, Kaimuki Christian School and The Toddler Program. Cultivating these bonds has been no mistake.
According to a Stanford University report released in 2016, bringing seniors together with children can benefit both groups enormously:
Simply stated, older people’s qualities and their affinity for purpose and engagement position them to make critical contributions to the lives of youth….At the same time, such engagement fulfills older people’s desire for a sense of meaning and purpose, which in turn promotes well-being. Mutually meaningful relationships develop for both old and young.
In his bestselling book, Being Mortal, author Dr. Atul Gawande tells the story of a senior community in Boston called NewBridge that shared grounds with a K-8 school. At NewBridge, the seniors could work in the school library and tutor students, while the students would report to the senior housing to get first-hand accounts of World War II for their history classes or to put on programs and performances. Senior residents became so close with their school-aged neighbors that one child was even asked to speak at his senior buddy’s memorial service.
“We really want our students to have communication and relationships with the kupuna,” says Lindon Kanakanui of KCS, “so they can hear about what the kupuna have been through and gain some wisdom. I also think that when they spend time with the kupuna it helps them see the world beyond their families and friends and helps them to develop empathy.”
Currently, the keiki at KCS have been collaborating with our seniors on a cookbook filled with the elders’ favorite recipes, helping to foster dialogue between the two groups about something everybody loves–food!