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Students, seniors making new friends with grandbuddies (7 photos)

Everyone looks forward to the visits

There were songs and treats, and newly-hatched guests as the grandbuddy program at W. Earle Miller Public School wrapped up another year.

The program sees Grade 2 students and residents at St. Mary's Gardens visit and build relationships throughout the school year. 

“A lot of the seniors that live there have grandchildren, great grandchildren that they possibly haven’t seen in a while so when the children come over it kind of stimulates us a little bit," said Lisette Ouellette, who has been a Grandbuddy from the start.

"We have that kind of relationship with the children and there’s a real bond. I think we’ve gotten very, very close to a lot of the kids that are coming in, we look forward to their visits and they look forward to our visits as well." 

Grandbuddies started three years ago. 

Teacher Jodee Mackey was reading a book with her daughters and in it the little boy goes to a seniors' home. Her daughters said they wished their class did that.

Mackey got approval from the principal, and today the program is thriving.

She explained it starts in September with the students writing a letter to introduce themselves, and the monthly visits usually start in October.

When the students visit, they have snacks, do art, play Bingo, or teach their grandbuddies math games. They've also explored Science Timmins.

“Every month one thing that’s consistent is they have to read to my grandbuddies. So my kids read to them and that was neat because then they got to see how they’ve improved and the change in their reading and my kids love it,” said Mackey.

With the students appreciating having somebody else read with them, she said they develop friendships.

“They’ve just developed that grandparent role that some of the kids don’t have,” she said.

“The excitement when they know their grandbuddies are coming or we’re going there, it’s unbelievable."

Through initiative, the school has even gained a new volunteer.

After Ouellette participated in the early days of the program, she asked about volunteering at the school. Now she's there three days a week. 

In the schoolyard, she said kids who have been through the program are always asking about their grandbuddies.

The relationships being built are also extending beyond the program.

Ouellette's favourite part is when the parents bring students to visit on days outside of the official visits.

"I had one parent come with her two daughters at Christmas time to bring me little poinsettia and little gift and just tell us thank you,” she said.  

To wrap up the program this year, the St. Mary's residents were at the school along with the students' families.

The kids performed songs and even got to get up close with eight two-day-old chicks that were hatched in the classroom. 


Maija Hoggett

About the Author: Maija Hoggett

Maija Hoggett is an experienced journalist who covers Timmins and area
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