One of the wonderful things about community-based literacy programs is the flexibility to create programs that suit the needs of the community and its members. In some programs people of different ages learn together. These intergenerational literacy programs are held in communities across BC.
In ONE TO ONE and Fostering Literacy programs across the province, volunteers help students improve their reading skills. Many of these volunteers are retired seniors. With many families separated by great distances, this is a valuable learning and social opportunity for the students and the seniors.
In several of BC’s 14 Fostering Literacy programs, high school students tutor elementary students. While this helps the younger students with their reading, it also builds the skills of the high school students. As one Abbotsford teen tutor said “I was prepared to see growth in my learner but I didn’t expect to see growth in myself.”
The Marpole grandparents’ group began as an intergenerational program about six years ago. Grandparents attended with their grandchildren. They cooked healthy meals together and the grandparents received support and information on childcare. As the grandchildren grew up and went to kindergarten, the grandparents stayed on and became a group of peer learners called Grandparents Learn and Lead. The group is still open to children and other family members but it is usually the grandparents who come.
In Creston, parents and caregivers and their babies gather at one of the senior community complexes in town for a Baby Goose program. They sit in a circle on mats in the lounge and the seniors (in either wheelchairs or chairs) surround them and enjoy watching and singing along with the group. One favourite Baby Goose song is “The Elevator Song.” Parents hold their babies and bring them up and down to the song. Older children move themselves up and down. With the group at the seniors’ complex, children pass out scarves. Everyone stays seated and moves the scarves up and down.
Gillian Wells, Creston’s Literacy Outreach Coordinator, says “most of the seniors wave their scarves up and down and enjoy watching the reactions of the kids. It is lovely to see how using the scarves with this song brings everyone together and brings out smiles all around!”
Here are the lyrics to “The Elevator Song.” Take a minute to sing it – it is sure to bring a smile!
“The Elevator Song” (sung to the tune of “Do Your Ears Hang Low?”)
Oh, the city is great and the city is grand.
There are lots of tall buildings
on a little piece of land.
We live way up on the 57th floor
and this is what we do when we open up the door.
We take the elevator up and the elevator down,
take the elevator up and the elevator down,
Take the elevator up and the elevator down,
and we turn around.