Tag Archives: Children

Senior Viewpoint: Elders + Youth Increase Happiness Quotient, by Barb Dupras

What can be sweeter than a tender, intimate moment shared between a grandchild and the grandparent, or a senior and a young one? This contact not only brings delight to the child but also a cherished moment for the senior. Why is this so important, especially in today’s world, and how can we nurture or create these experiences today?

Generations ago, having extended family was part of life; those relationships grew and developed over a lifetime. In today’s world, with people living thousands of miles away from each other, it is more difficult to maintain those relationships in a close way. The intimacy and learning can be lost.

There is now more awareness of the importance for the younger generation to learn about the different stages of life through contact with the elderly. And because of the age difference, children learn important social skills. So activities have been created to give children who wouldn’t ordinarily have this opportunity time with older adults.

There are a variety of such options here in the U.P. Some churches’ youth programs include trips to nursing homes, particularly around the holidays. A children’s group calls Bingo at Valenti Nursing Home once a month. Foster Grandparents in Gladstone, sponsored by Escanaba’s Community Action Board, brings grandparents into schools to play with and read to children. The Bridges program, run by Pathways Community Mental Health, pairs at-risk youth with developmentally disabled adults in weekly meetings with activities. Marquette’s Peter White Public Library offers the Book Babies program, in which seniors/adults read to youngsters. Big Brothers/Big Sisters of Marquette always has openings to match seniors/adults with young people needing that relationship.

Interesting programs across the country are also bringing generations together. One such is All Seasons Preschool in Minnesota. The preschool is housed inside a senior living building, providing daily opportunities for those precious relationships to flourish. All Seasons Preschool’s philosophy is that “. . . quality of life is enhanced when all generations live and work together.” Daily activities with seniors include storytime, active games, cooking, and rhythm band.

Being around the seniors brings out the best behaviors in the children. Just being aware of another’s needs leads children to modify their behavior around the seniors. For example, those who were usually overly active slowed down. Children also learned about the differences in older people – wrinkled skin, white hair, can’t see/hear well, memory problems – learning empathy as a result. Long term studies have also showed improved vocabulary and advanced social skills result from these relationships. All Season Preschool has been so successful overall that developers interested in replicating this model elsewehere have been contacting the school.

As much as the younger generation needs the wisdom and patience of the older generation, the older generation needs the innocence and vitality of the young ones. At All Seasons Preschool, seniors who didn’t usually participate in activities came out of their shells once the children were present. Spending time with children helps to alleviate boredom, loneliness, and feelings of helplessness. How can you be depressed when a lively young one is in your presence?

Margaret Mead stated, “Somehow we have to get older people back close to growing children if we are to restore a sense of community, a knowledge of the past, and a sense of the future.”

As this country values independence, too many people feel dependence is a weakness. Seniors concerned about being a burden on their families do not ask for help. As a result, they tend to isolate, become detached. If we are to handle the increasing proportion of seniors in a life-giving way, we need to prioritize bringing them back into community. Too many seniors are lonely and alone, and too many children are deprived of this vital connection. Playing with electronics is not a substitute for a loving intimate relationship with a wisdom-filled older person.

Those interested in learning more about inter-generational activities may want to explore Generations United (www.generationsunited.org), the only national membership organization devoted to the well-being of the younger and older generation and building bridges between them. More such ideas are also described at http://www.legacyproject.org. Legacy Project is a “big picture learning and social innovation project” that includes community building through activities connecting generations.

So what do grandparents in our community have to say? One grandma who has a close relationship with her young granddaughter discussed the difference between parent-child and grandparent-grandchild relationships. Parents are often distracted with their own worries or have limited time. This grandmother feels that because she is not responsible for her granddaughter 24/7, she is more relaxed, focused and present; she can be at her best with her.

Several grandmothers told me they love to play pretend with their grandchildren. One described how her grandson loves to come into bed with her in the morning to play pretend octopus, whale or other sea creatures or animals together, which builds imagination along with learning. She also loves to sing with her grandson, making sure to sing in his range so he’ll be more comfortable singing along. She also feels it’s important to continue the stories of the past. She tells stories that came from her mother, and talks about what it was like growing up in a different era to educate her grandson on his lineage.

Grandparents have the unique opportunity to pass along their wisdom – in whatever way it comes through. If you are fortunate enough to have a grandchild, have fun nurturing your relationship with him or her, and know you play an important part in shaping a little life!

Barb Dupras is a retired Senior Center social worker and an energy healing practitioner who enjoys living on the Chocolay River

This article was reprinted with permission from the Summer 2014 issue of Health & Happiness U.P. Magazine, copyright 2014. All rights reserved.

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Filed under Aging, Barb Dupras, elder care

Announcing Health & Happiness’s 2013 Donation!

As part of Year Two of Health & Happiness U.P. Magazine’s 5-year commitment to increased support for a different area of community life each year, we’ve increased our coverage of youth and parenting issues and have chosen two local children’s programs to receive our annual donation – Start the Cycle, and Music 4 All Kids.

We’d like to thank those advertisers who have generously added to this donation  – Moonstone Gallery, Coco’s Restaurant, Panara Imports, Hempy’s Company, Huron Earth Deli, Alicia Smith Dambeck, LAc, CH, Aurelia Holistic Health & Healing, Wendi Greer, CSW, Natural Connections, Serendipity Salon, Intuitive Learning Creations, Elements of Consignment, Intentional Healing, Joy Center, and Northstar Employee Assistance Program.

Click here for more on Music 4 All Kids, including MFAK Director Shane Murray’s response to receiving our donation.

We look forward to including a special feature on Start the Cycle in an upcoming issue.

And please comment here to let us know what you’d like to see added to our youth and parenting content, or on our Facebook page.

Our special Season for Giving & Living Health & Happiness issue goes to press today! It will be delivered to over 250 Marquette & Alger County locations over the next week. I hope it will inspire you to do just that, for an extra wonderful holiday, and beyond!

With best wishes,

Roslyn Elena McGrath, Publisher

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Filed under Donation, Positive Parenting, Roslyn McGrath

Creative Inspiration: Interview with Shane Murray, Founder of Music 4 All Kids

mfak photoWhat is Music 4 All Kids?

It’s a non-profit organization devoted to the advancement of youth ages five to eighteen through learning, applying and teaching music, regardless of a student’s ability to pay.  We work with students at our local facility, (MacDonald’s Music), as well as Marquette’s Alternative High School and YMCA.

We teach individual lessons and workshops, along with a comprehensive four-phase advancement program that culminates in students becoming instructors.

In the first stage, students learn the fundamentals of music, begin lessons on an instrument of their choice, and have access to one-on-one mentorship for building confidence and motivation.

In the second stage, students can join an ensemble of two to four peers playing many genres of music. Social skills are developed while expanding their social circle.

Once students have advanced, they get to experience engineering and recording.  In this third stage, they create their own productions and promote them, which develops their job skills. Working on a project and producing a finished piece is a great experience for our students!

Those who reach Stage 4 can become student instructors. They work with our team, learning how to lead workshops and teach beginning lessons.  This gives them a sense of accomplishment while promoting leadership skills, and the good feelings that result from passing on what they’ve learned to another student.

We have a talented staff of directors and teachers, plus a board of directors. And we’re partnered with the Cedar Tree Insitute.

What inspired you to found this program?

My mom’s work as Director of Great Lakes Recovery Centers for twenty-seven years inspired me to become a counselor in that field, working for seven years with kids with substance abuse problems in residential settings.  As a musician, I later began teaching music lessons in Marquette to kids.  While teaching, I realized there was a local need to help children thrive and become better students overall through music and mentoring. So I decided to create a nonprofit to help reach these goals.

We just finished our first instructor training program on October 26th and 27th.  Fifteen instructors, local professional musicians and social workers, were trained.  We’re implementing the program at the Marquette Alternative High School and the YMCA, along with other community nonprofits.  The passion of the musicians and teachers at the instructor program was amazing, and we all can’t wait to share our passion with the students!

What successes have you seen with the program so far?                                                   

The children in the program are thriving, excelling in school and life.  And we had a student who’s been part of the program since it began attend our instructor training program. This year she attended the Blue Lake Fine Arts Camps on a scholarship.  We are excited to expand our staff, and to begin teaching in the Alternative School – which currently has no music program!

What are the challenges?                                                                                                                               

We’re a nonprofit, so we rely solely on donations from the community, and are working hard to obtain grants.  We’re constantly looking for donations of instruments, new and used, as well as sponsors from local businesses, and anyone in the community who believes in children, music and personal growth, that can assist us with monetary donations.

What else would you like people to know about Music 4 All Kids?                                                                                                                                 

Research shows children who participate in music programs become better students.  Our program teaches and mentors children.  We believe in the power of music in a child’s life, and the power of a positive role model. Music can expand and grow your life, and we are excited to bring music to children who don’t have that benefit through their school system.

If there is a child you know who could benefit, or needs a mentor or a musical mentor, contact us. Our new website is http://www.music4allkids.us, and my number is 906-235-5163.

Additional funds would help us to expand our program by providing funding for those students in our target demographic, as well as add a wider variety of musical instruction to our current program.

If you or anyone you know would like to make a donation of instruments or money, we thank you, and the children in the program thank you!

(This article was reprinted with permission from the Winter 2013 – 2014 issue of Health & Happiness U.P. Magazine, copyright 2013. All rights reserved.)

And what did Shane say when we surprised her last night with news of Health & Happiness’s donation?

Oh my God! That’s great! That means so much. Wow, thank you!

Be sure to check out their website, www.music4allkids.us and Facebook page for more on their program!

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Filed under Creative Inspiration, Music, Positive Parenting