Nursing home residents befriend SoCal fourth graders

Mandi Steele/FULTON SUN photo: From left, Gabe Williamson, Margaret Wood and Daniel Donald play a game of Sorry at Riverview Nursing Center on Friday. The fourth-grade classes at South Callaway Elementary try to make the trip at least once a year.

Mandi Steele/FULTON SUN photo: From left, Gabe Williamson, Margaret Wood and Daniel Donald play a game of Sorry at Riverview Nursing Center on Friday. The fourth-grade classes at South Callaway Elementary try to make the trip at least once a year.

— Ten-year-olds Daniel Donald and Gabe Williamson patiently explain the game of Sorry to nursing home resident Margaret Wood, asking her which token she would prefer to move on her turn.

“You would know better,” Wood tells the boys.

The fourth grade boys were visiting Riverview Nursing Center in Mokane during a class field trip. Thirty students from South Callaway Elementary went to the center on Friday to play games and give cards to residents. The fourth grade classes at South Callaway try to visit the center at least once a year.

Cindy Jordan, school counselor, said Friday’s trip was part of December’s “service to others” character theme.

“We’re trying to do something nice for someone else,” Jordan said. “It’s not about them, it’s about others.”

Jordan said the students really enjoy the visits and some even return to the center on their own if they make a connection with a resident.

“The kids just really get a lot from it,” she said.

Resident Aline Allen asked for Chyann Pate’s name before beginning to play Connect Four with her and two other students. Then Allen gave Pate a hug and said, “I love you.”

Pate’s schoolmate Brette Masek, 9, said she thinks it’s important for her class to visit the residents, “so they can have a good time.”

Donald said he was excited to come to the center and enjoyed teaching Wood how to play Sorry.

“It’s fun to get to meet new people,” he said.

Williamson said even though he was losing the game, he liked entertaining the residents.

“I’m having a great time,” Williamson said.

Tracy Clingman, office manager at Riverview, said she can tell a big difference in the residents after they interact with the students.

“After the kids leave, they’ll be wide awake and smiling,” she said.

Clingman said the elderly at the center look forward to the students’ arrival every time.

“The residents love it.”

Clingman has a daughter, Rylie, in the fourth grade at South Callaway who will visit the center on Friday, Dec. 17. With four fourth grade classes, the school chose to divide the group up and schedule two separate visits. Clingman said Rylie is already going through her games at home to decide which ones she wants to bring.

Carla Weirich, fourth grade teacher, said some of the residents don’t have visitors to spend time with, so it’s important that the children come, especially this time of year.

“It’s good for the students to see the older people, and it’s good for the older people to interact with the kids,” she said.

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