Every other Tuesday evening at Garden Terrace Healthcare Center of Federal Way, Washington, residents on the Rose Unit (assisted living) hear the pitter patter of little feet.
This summer, the facility started a Seniors and Sprouts program in which community children come visit the residents. Each session, anywhere from 7-15 kids ages 1-13 attend to bring joy to the seniors.
“My daughter, Nicole, approached me in July asking if our facility would be interested in hosting an intergenerational program of mothers (and dads) and toddlers/school-age children,” said Glenn Fischer, activity director.
Garden Terrace modeled its program after a similar program elsewhere in the state. The activity is advertised to families in a local play group, though any local families are welcome to attend. Fischer’s daughter leads the group, and four of his grandchildren participate regularly.
The kids and seniors get together with various toys at their disposal, such as building blocks, Lincoln Logs, coloring books with crayons, beach balls, parachutes, books and puzzles.
“Every meeting is unique, depending on who shows up and which residents participate,” Fischer said. “Some residents enjoy watching. Some enjoy tossing a ball or talking with children.”
One week, the children taught the residents how to dance to the popular song “Baby Shark.”
After the program, the families go to the facility’s ice cream café for a little treat.
“The group is all the residents on that unit talk about,” said Megan Larson, executive director. “They always know when Glenn brings out the play mats that the kids are coming to play.”