Sunrise of Randolph 'Live with Legacy' Programs Spark Friendship

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Thursday, January 28, 2016 2:52 pm EST

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TAP Into Randolph

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Twice a month preschoolers and kindergarteners of My Special Spot preschool eagerly await the arrival of their friends from Sunrise of Randolph. ‘Live with Legacy’ is one of Sunrise’s eight signature programs that joins the young with the young at heart. Residents joyfully engage with the children during planned activities including arts and crafts, reading books, playing games, and anything that encourages interaction.

My Special Spot has been working with Sunrise for the past few months. “It has been a great experience for all concerned,” said My Special Spot owner / Co-Director Jeff Volk.

“The children are really excited to see them when they come in. They are almost like celebrities. And believe it or not the residents are even more excited. I think the Live With Legacy Program is a great way for seniors to stay involved and to share their energy and experiences so that others can continue to share it forward.”

Between the two classes there are approximately 35 children ranging in ages three to five. Sunrise usually brings the same seven residents so everyone gets to know each other. The children are ecstatic to do anything with their Sunrise friends.

After last week’s gathering Volk said, “Yesterday they had a great time playing with cinnamon play dough and snow that we made from corn starch and baby oil. While fun, they were also sensory and tactile experiences for the children. Consequently, the children are having a learning experience without even knowing it because they’re having so much fun.”

Besides having a pleasant time, Volk hopes the children can take away life experiences from the Live with Legacy program. He quoted Lynda Spence & Heidi Liss Radunovich 2012, “Young children are very concrete in their thinking: what they see is what they know. This means that if children don’t interact with older adults they will have difficulty understanding them. Research shows that the earlier children are made familiar with older adults the better their perceptions of them are.”

Volk added, “We hope that spending time with the children brightens their day and makes them feel fulfilled. Sunrise Assisted Living created its Live With Legacy program to allow residents to share their wisdom and knowledge and to encourage mutual cross-generational sharing of talents, skills, experiences and energy. It’s a win-win experience. And I can tell you that the seniors absolutely love coming here and spending time with these adorable children.”

My Special Spot was founded in 1996. After spending nearly 20 years in the financial industry, Volk was looking to do something he felt was more meaningful and would allow him to make a difference. Along with his wife Randi, a psychotherapist specializing in children, the two purchased the center in 2003. “It’s been the best decision I’ve ever made.” Volk had contacted Sunrise of Randolph without even knowing about the Live with Legacy program which he states is amazing. “I have always run our center from the perspective of a parent. I have three boys of my own and everything we do here is based on what I would want or do for my own children. Therefore, I was simply interested in having seniors come and visit our children because I thought it would be a wonderful experience for our children. But also, as the son of an 86 year old parent, I thought it would be just as amazing for seniors to be able to spend time with young children.”

Volk says the most rewarding part of his job is, “knowing that we have created an environment where children are loved and nurtured, where they feel safe and secure and where they get an outstanding early education.”

Residents and employees of Sunrise share a mutual appreciation of the program. Resident Don Kleinschmidt spoke of the significance of his visits to the preschool. He most enjoys communicating with the children. “I think it’s important for the children to develop self respect. When you recognize them and give them the attention that they deserve and let them know they are important there will be mutual respect.”

The collaboration between youngsters and seniors has proven to be beneficial for the soul. As the residents left the school, the children embraced their new friendships. Some waved as they exclaimed, “Goodbye, Grandma!”

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