Sweet Readers
Posted 04/09/2014 04:00PM
This fall, Class 5 humanities teacher Trude Goodman and Head of Middle School Mary Rafferty helped to bring a new service-learning program to Chapin. “Sweet Readers” connects middle school students with adults with mild to moderate Alzheimer’s and related dementias. The organization believes that volunteers “investigate and discover people, science, language and the arts more fully as they connect with and help those in need.”

Earlier in the year, the girls and their supporting faculty took part in a training program to ensure that they were prepared and informed about the conditions facing their elder partners. The girls, grouped in their Advisory groups of 10-11 students, participated in six-week rotations.

On a recent visit to C.V. Starr, an adult care facility, members of Ms. Goodman’s Advisory group met with their elder partners for an afternoon of activities, songs and art. In addition to gaining new skills, many of the girls have gained new perspectives through the program.

“It helps me, because I am more self-aware in conversations now,” offered one student, noting the importance of language use and making connections with her partner.
“The girls have come to realize how much they can give by listening, holding a hand, and showing their interest,” noted Ms. Goodman, who has observed the strengthening of the girls’ empathy. Ms. Goodman underscored the importance of recognizing the program’s mutually beneficial aspects. “The elders love having a chance themselves to give, to offer advice and to work with young people.”

“When you make a connection with your elder partner it feels great,” said one of the girls during the group’s walk from C.V. Starr back to Chapin. Her classmates agreed with enthusiasm, looking forward to their next Sweet Readers visit.

Click here to view more photos from the visit.