Students, Residents of Abernethy Laurels Find Common Ground as Penpals

Mrs. Tasha Burgin’s second grade class at Maiden Elementary School has uncovered a sea of new friends at Abernethy Laurels, a senior living community, and the entire school is excited.  Shaylyn Ladd, Director of Community Engagement, and Mrs. Burgin have partnered to offer Generation Connection, a pen pal program where these second graders and residents in the healthcare center of the senior community exchange handwritten letters.

The students made the initial contact with the seniors by introducing themselves and asking many questions. The Abernethy Laurels residents were excited to receive the handwritten letters and make their pen pals official.  Even though many are frail, homebound and with limitations, these seniors were quick to seek help in putting their thoughts on paper and replying to the letters.  Meanwhile, the students were eagerly anticipating a response.

“The letters just can’t flow quickly enough,” shared Mrs. Burgin.  “Once the students write their letters, they are eagerly wanting a response.  They are learning the importance of patience and that responses aren’t always immediate as in most technology applications.  Generation Connection is preserving a lost art, the craft of handwriting, while also improving writing skills.”

Generation Connection has mutual benefits for the young and the young at heart.  The students have enjoyed learning that Abernethy Laurels residents liked sports, music, and books.  Many of the seniors shared that they come from larger families and each had daily chores.  From an educational experience, the children have benefited from the authentic writing experience and enjoy learning how different the senior’s childhood experiences were as compared to their own.

“From a senior’s perspective, our residents have a renewed spirit when the letters from the students arrive,” shared Ladd. “They are pleased to offer positive reinforcement to the students and love triggering memories from their past.”

There are unlimited possibilities for the Generation Connection pen pal program between Abernethy Laurels’ residents and the students at Maiden Elementary School.  Even with the school year quickly coming to a close, Burgin and Ladd have made a lasting partnership and these second graders at Maiden Elementary will continue their journey with their senior pen pals as soon to be third graders when the new school year begins.

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