Older Adults and Young Children Find Life is Better With Grandfriends

New “grandfriends” share a hug.

A terrific idea has turned into a successful program and partnership for UCC-related St. John’s Community Care in Collinsville, Ill.

St. John’s is partnering with We Rock The Spectrum Kids Gym in nearby Edwardsville to host intergenerational music classes called Grandfriends. We Rock The Spectrum is a  gym where children of all abilities can play and grow together. It includes uniquely-designed sensory equipment specifically designed to aid children with sensory processing disorders.

Through the Grandfriends program, intergenerational music is bringing together children and their senior friends for enjoyable sessions of fun and music.

We Rock the Spectrum Kids Gym is located right next door to St. John’s Adult Day Program, and Rock the Spectrum franchise owner Jennifer Range thought a co-sponsored intergenerational music program was a natural fit. Range contacted Stacey Rhodes, St. John’s adult day program director, and Grandfriends was born.

Classes are held at the We Rock the Spectrum gym each Wednesday at 9:30 a.m. under the guidance of Elizabeth O’Dell, music therapist.

“The social benefits for both ages are amazing, but the brain benefits for the elder group are profound,” says Elizabeth.

Kids of all ages participate in the music and dancing!

Missy Athmer, St. John’s marketing director, says the participants from St. John’s Adult Day Program look forward each week to spending time with the children. Some came into the program shy or unsure, she says, and in just a few weeks are now fully engaged in singing and socializing with the children.

“It’s definitely an energizing pick-me-up for everyone!” Athmer adds.

Although Range is offering this program free to St. John’s Adult Day Program participants, there is cost involved to pay the therapist who plans and implements the program each week. Because sessions run $75 each, We Rock the Spectrum and St. John’s currently are raising funds to cover the cost. For more information on helping to fund the program, contact Jennifer Range at the gym, 618-307-5834.

The original version of this story by Missy Athmer appeared in St. John’s Spring 2019 newsletter. St. John’s Community Care is an outreach ministry of St. John UCC in Collinsville, Ill.

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