by Nasci Lobo, Director of Communications and Marketing
YIS' commitment to making service learning a permanent and significant part of our school culture is reflected in the continuous development of our relationships with organizations that students, staff and parents contribute time and effort towards. In the 2017 school year, grade six students began visiting the Bon Sejour nursing home in Shin-yamashita to provide company and social activities to the seniors living there. Initial visits to the nursing home started three years ago with the grade two students, who continue to visit. As a result, students from either grade now visit the home in small groups almost weekly, making it a consistent part of the home's activities schedule.
A recent visit by a small group of grade six students to the home was their first. They were accompanied by two teachers and two parents. The students felt an understandable sense of hesitancy given it was their first experience interacting with seniors in this capacity. Aside from language considerations, students also needed to interact with seniors who have decreased mobility or cognition difficulties. In order to prepare for this, their teachers shared experiences from previous visits, and asked them to develop ideas and responses to various situations. Working together, however, the students did develop solutions and activities they then used at the home. They sang songs, played card games, shared pictures of their school and family, made origami, colored pictures and, more importantly, talked to the seniors, who don't have many visitors or family.
This interaction, a valuable learning experience for students, fosters vital emotional intelligence and understanding in them. It also connects to the 10 Keys of Happy Living in our social and emotional learning curriculum. Service is an integral part of the learning experience at YIS. It involves our community as leaders, learners, guardians and citizens. Through service we develop empathy, gain knowledge of real needs, enter into mutually beneficial relationships and take action. Grade six student, Julie, shares her thoughts on her recent first visit to Bon Sejour nursing home, below.
This is the third article in a series documenting the grade-specific and group activities of our service program. Learn more about our program on the Service Learning page.