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Edmonton Public Library brings parent and tot programs to seniors’ homes

Click to play video: 'Edmonton library hosts parent and tot classes at seniors’ homes'
Edmonton library hosts parent and tot classes at seniors’ homes
Edmonton Public Library is hosting early childhood development classes at seniors' homes. As Emily Mertz explains, it helps foster socialization and combat isolation. – Jun 12, 2024

When Rutherford Heights Retirement Residence invited Edmonton Public Library to host some parent and tot sessions at the seniors’ facility, it felt like a perfect fit.

“We really thought that there was a way to kind of leverage what we are good at — which is early childhood education, story time, sing, sign, lap and learn — and help bring that into their community and then connect their neighbours using their resources,” said Ben Ehlers, a digital librarian with EPL.

“This was really an opportunity for the library to support our older adults living in our communities and help connect them with other members of the community.”

Ehlers said the pairing is mutually beneficial. It helps combat social isolation, supports memory and recall, while helping the babies’ development. It’s also just pure joy.

“I think it’s lovely having kids around,” said Joan Neach, 82. “We all like little ones. I think it’s fun to spend time with the children.

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“Some of them are really shy and they shy away from people. This is good. I think this is great,” Neach said.

“I love to see the kids. I mean, we talk to ‘old people’ all the time. Now this is nice.”

Click to play video: 'Edmonton Public Library starting up ‘Ready. Set. READ.’ program'
Edmonton Public Library starting up ‘Ready. Set. READ.’ program

Children aged 0-3 and their parents are welcome to sign up. There are intergenerational songs, rhymes and books.

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“We just love getting out to these programs,” said mother-of-two Alesha Robertson. “My daughter was born during COVID, so we didn’t get to the mom and baby classes… It look a long time. She wasn’t socialized at all. Like I said, everything was by Zoom. She didn’t get to interact with the other babies or seniors or anything. She used to actually scream in people’s faces because she was scared of people. It’s so important to socialize them at a young age.

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“And this one, with the seniors, it just gives me chills because it’s just so cute seeing them holding the babies and it puts a smile on their face,” Robertson said.

“It brings so much joy and you can just tell on their faces that they’re happy to see the babies. They like singing and reading to them.”

Click to play video: 'Learn valuable life skills at the Edmonton Public Library'
Learn valuable life skills at the Edmonton Public Library

Ehlers says everyone can find common ground around the childhood experience.

“It doesn’t matter what your family situation is, you still have an experience of, at the very least, being a child. And a lot of those threads are kind of consistent across generations. So what we really wanted to do was drill down and find content that appeals to the youngest and the oldest.”

Music, especially, can be so powerful, he added.

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“What really is kind of fascinating is that some of those memories of songs are some of the most durable memories that people have.”

For more information on EPL’s Together We Grow programs, visit the library’s website.

EPL is ramping up for another session. Any seniors’ homes who would like to participate can reach out to their local EPL branch.

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EPL Forward Thinking Speaker Series back for another year

 

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