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04-23-14: Shaw Road students visit with elderly in outreach project
04-23-14: Shaw Road students visit with elderly in outreach project
Posted on 04/23/2014

“Nice matters.”


Just ask the students at Shaw Road Elementary, which has adopted the theme this year as part of a schoolwide kindness campaign.


Students are acknowledged at schoolwide assemblies for their kind acts and are surrounded by inspirational quotes about being nice to others on their school walls and bulletin boards.Image


Principal Judy Piger and the staff also regularly promote the theme by wearing T-shirts with the message “Because Nice Matters” printed on the back.


The school Diversity Team took the theme one step further by organizing a school outreach program that pairs students with the elderly in a yearlong community service project.


“This was a way to give back to the community and make students aware how they can spread kindness to other people,” said second-grade teacher and school Diversity Committee member Mary Baker.


Every month since November, several students representing each of the classes in a particular grade level spend an hour after school visiting with residents at the Puyallup Nursing and Rehabilitation Center.


The student “ambassadors,” selected by their teachers for being positive role models, also present the residents with student artwork created by themselves and their classmates.


In early February, students passed out artwork that featured different styles and colors of hearts, including some in the shape of ladybugs and caterpillars, in advance of Valentine’s Day.


Sixth grader Ally Kindig said she decided to participate after her teacher told her class, “It would make them (the residents) really happy.”


Ally and her classmates chatted and shared art with residents waiting for their dinner in the main dining room before being escorted by the center staff to meet with some of the residents in their rooms.


ImageAs they moved from room to room, residents asked the sixth graders questions ranging from what they liked best about school to how long it took to complete the art project.


“For many of these students, it’s their first time going into a nursing home environment,” Baker said. “We talk to them before the visit about how to introduce themselves, how to shake hands and make eye contact, and what kinds of disabilities they might see. They are great kids, and very accepting.”


Students are accompanied on the monthly visits by their parents, who transport their children to the activity, as well as several teachers, the principal, and members of the center staff.


“This is so meaningful for the residents,” said Rochelle Rogers, activities assistant at Puyallup Nursing and Rehabilitation Center. “It really warms their hearts.”


Resident Doris Klein paused to carefully eye the artwork and then said, “Well children, thank you. They really had you go into detail, didn’t they? I congratulate your teachers for what they have taught you.”


Resident Robert Bartlett added, “You guys study hard. It’s very, very important to get a good education. And please, go to college!”


The monthly community service project is often tied to school lesson plans or activities such as a family heritage unit in first grade or the schoolwide Grandparents Day celebration in January, Baker said.


The visits are also registered as one of the school’s March Gladness community service projects. March Gladness is an annual districtwide effort that encourages students in all 32 schools to serve their community.


As the Shaw Road Elementary students wrapped up their visit and headed for the front door, several residents waved goodbye from their beds and the hallway, many of them still clutching the student artwork that they would eventually hang on their bedroom walls.