By Nicole Bruce
Weinberg Community and Moriah Early Childhood Center Partnership Enriches Lives of Older Adults and Preschoolers
Every other week, Gidwitz Place residents at Weinberg Community for Senior Living await their regular visits with a special group of preschoolers who are dropped off by a CJE Shalom bus. Since late fall, teachers and parents from Moriah Early Childhood Center in Deerfield and Weinberg Community staff have watched relationships blossom between the preschoolers and Gidwitz residents.
Moriah Early Childhood Center forged this unique partnership with Weinberg Community after becoming a pilot school in the new national initiative IDEAL18, which stands for “Intentional Deep Experiences Across Lifecycles” and works to create and deepen meaningful relationships across generations. Young children from the Moriah Congregation preschool program and the residents at CJE’s assisted living community in Deerfield have bonded over a range of intentional, creative activities over the past several months.
Each older adult resident is paired with a preschool child, and they chat about life, tell stories and immerse themselves in imaginative projects with the same child every other week to build a more meaningful intergenerational relationship. In turn, the preschoolers get to know their experienced “grand-friends” a little bit more during each visit to establish a stronger emotional bond. Together, the residents and preschoolers have painted ceramics, played with magnet tiles, and even participated in music programs led by Weinberg Community’s music therapist.
All activities are thoughtfully designed to engage both age groups. Depending on the program, they might interact in the social hall, the art room, or the activity kitchen to work on planned activities. Afterwards, staff from Weinberg Community, Moriah Early Childhood Center, and IDEAL18 reflect on the day’s activities and strategize to enhance the process as they move forward together. The children are often integrated into a program already scheduled for Gidwitz residents—like a music program—by adding an emotional expressivity component for the children.
“Our residents are really forming amazing relationships with these young children. They talk about their vacations and their travel around the world, life cycles and Jewish ideas through holiday programs, which deepens the relationships,” said Weinberg Community’s Executive Director Jennifer Weininger. “Everyone feels the positive vibes when the kids come to visit.”
In today’s rapidly changing, technologically-driven world, both the experienced older adult and young child benefit from engaging with each other on a regular basis—and both look forward to seeing one another again soon.
Gidwitz Place is part of the warm, welcoming environment of Weinberg Community for Senior Living in Deerfield, IL, just off the I-294 Interchange. We offer home-like Assisted Living as well as Memory Care and Adult Day Services for those with Alzheimer’s and related dementias. Call 847.374.0500 or visit WeinbergCommunity.net.