Preschool’s success stories shared with Rotarians

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October 9, 2015 - 12:00 AM

Windsor Place’s Age-to-Age pre-school program, in its fifth year, remains an unqualified success, Marian Highberger told Iola Rotarians Thursday.
The USD 257 program permits kids to experience the nursing home’s elderly residents, and for them to involve themselves with the children.
“We thought we did a good job of entertaining and engaging residents,” said Highberger, human resources executive. “When the kids came in they took it to a whole new level. It’s gives both (groups) a better quality of life. The elderly feel like they’re back in the community; the kids learn to be advocates for the elderly.”
Highberger acquainted Rotary members with Age-to-Age through a video produced from Coffeyville’s kindergarten program, which was a selling point for installing a classroom at the Iola facility.
“We showed it to Dr. (Craig) Neuenswander (then superintendent of USD 257 schools). All were on board. Kindergarten wasn’t a good fit in Iola, but “they needed a place for pre-school.”
Windsor-Iola readied a classroom and the project leaped forward. One group of children is there mornings, another in afternoons.
Residents quickly embraced greeting the children each session. They help with classroom exercises and lessons, and leave with a smile on their faces and feelings of accomplishment.
“It’s magic medicine the kids bring to the residents’ world,” Highberger said, much more meaningful than bingo three times a week.
Some residents’ observations in the Coffeyville video: “Made me feel useful.” “I just love it.” “I learn from them.”

HIGHBERGER, an employee at the home for 23 years, said Windsor-Iola had 57 beds, all usually in use.
“The challenge,” she added, “is to do more than just entertain,” that residents wanted some semblance of the lives they had before.
“No one wants to go to a nursing home — oh,  there might be someone — and (statistically) six of 10 prescribed nursing home care say they’d rather be dead,” Highberger said, perhaps with a little hyperbole.
Therapy, which many use, takes some time and then the staff has to find ways to make the remainder of each day more than a bore. Age-to-Age has helped immensely, Highberger said.

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