From left: The Gardens at Qualicum Beach resident Lauretta Smith bakes chocolate cupcakes with Grade 6 students Rowan Brightland and Nixon Rockliff during an afternoon of baking at Qualicum Beach Elementary School May 22 as part of an offshoot of the pilot program Real Toy Story. — Lauren Collins photo

Qualicum Beach seniors, students come together to bake

Real Toy Story program bridges intergenerational gap

What started as an intergenerational pilot program for students at Qualicum Beach Elementary School to learn about the history of toys has now turned into meetings that both the students and residents of The Gardens at Qualicum Beach look forward to.

Lynne Murray, a Grade 6 teach at Qualicum Beach elementary, said the idea for the Real Toy Story program came from the district resource centre, in conjunction with the Qualicum Beach museum and The Gardens at Qualicum Beach.

“We became the pilot class for this to see if we could form connections in the community, so that we could get the kids working with the seniors and bridge the gap between the generations through things like cooking with them, games days,” Murray told The NEWS during a baking session between her students and residents from The Gardens.

Juliana Kratz, a resident at The Gardens, said at a School District 69 (Qualicum) board meeting that when she moved into an old-age home, she felt her world getting smaller.

“When the children came, something happened. It was like a booster shot,” said Kratz, adding that she brought some of her many hand puppets out, and was called the puppet lady.

Laurel Wright, recreation programmer with The Gardens, said the school district initially contacted her about the intergenerational program. She said with the Real Toy Story program students were learning about the history of different toys and talking to the residents about different games and toys.

“Then we came together to bake and that was the first time a month ago. It was so fun,” Wright said. “The first time we came and baked, a lot of the residents didn’t really know what it was all about, so we didn’t have too many signed up.”

Wright said the few residents that did go to the first baking session “raved about it” and now more of the residents have signed up.

Murray said with the baking, the children get to talk to seniors about different cooking techniques the seniors used when they were young.

“They’re (seniors are giving advice and the kids are telling them what they know, and hopefully we’ll make some good cupcakes.”

With each get together, Murray said, the children become more relaxed, responsive and willing to talk.

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