Three generations launch book of life stories
A group of United Active Living residents, university students and students in a grade 3 class showed their resiliency in the face of COVID restrictions to produce a book that tells real-life stories from the three age-group’s perspectives. Called the Resiliency Interviews, the students and older adults came together to ask each other questions about their lives.
The original intent was to bring the generations together in regular face-to-face sessions, but COVID forced those best-laid plans to change.
“We demonstrated such a high degree of resiliency, despite all of the obstacles we faced,” said Jocelyn Williams, associate professor, St. Mary’s University, which helped develop the project. “I loved the idea that we have this interconnectedness within generations and between generations. COVID stopped us from having face-to-face meetings, but we persevered, constantly pivoted as plans changed, and exchanged stories through letter writing as we used to do long ago with pen pals.”
“Our plans morphed into communicating in other ways,” said Richard Russell, teacher, Calgary’s Sibylla Kiddle school. “It became a great way to teach what communication is. Pen pals and letter writing became new again. There was pure joy when one of the students would receive a letter from a United resident. The letters back and forth reflected innocence and wisdom among three generations. It was thought provoking and I was thrilled with the outcome.”
“Despite the challenges presented by COVID, we wanted to make this work,” said Kim Coulter, United’s Fish Creek program development & creative expressions manager. “It gave everyone the opportunity to revive an old art form and create a work around. The grade 3s were critical to the success of the project because it gave everyone insight into how different the perspectives on life are between the generations.”
“I was super excited about the project,” said University student Georgia Williams. “We each had two grade 3s and one older adult. It was interesting to interact with the grade 3 students and see their perspective on life with their limited experiences. It was an incredible experience.”
University student Grace Boyko was teamed with United resident Mahesh Shah. Mahesh, who was excited to be part of the project, recently passed away. “It was a wonderful opportunity to be paired with Mahesh. He showed me the importance of working hard and persevering. Because of COVID we didn’t meet in person but our exchanges were so rewarding, and it was interesting to get to know someone without ever meeting him.”
Resident Ruth Nelson spoke for many of the residents when she said it was valuable to be involved with the young students. “It was a real privilege to be involved. I think the book is neat. It will be something that will encourage them for years to come. It was disappointing that we had to make changes due to COVID but it was nice to meet the children here today. This event brought everything together.” Ruth told the students that the residents will be thinking of them and that their letters meant much to them. She received cheers from the students when she suggested they continue to exchange letters.
The Resiliency Interviews follows an earlier book that was developed between university students and United Active Living residents. Will there be a third book? “I certainly hope so,” said Kim. “Yes, there could certainly be another book,” said Jocelyn. After all, experiences and the wisdom that comes from them are constantly changing, providing all new content for future generations.
Photos and videos by Sherana Productions.
Speak with one of our active living advisors about life in a United community. They can arrange tours of our Garrison Green and Fish Creek communities. If you know a friend or family member who could benefit from living in a United community, send them a link to our website or blog, or arrange a future visit. We are happy to help!