This week, the members of the Benevilla Intergenerational Program had an exciting day learning about fire safety from the team at Surprise Fire Station 301. This innovative partnership program brings together the senior members of the Benevilla Life Enrichment Program called “Lucy Anne’s Place” with the children from the Wirtzie’s Preschool and Childcare facility.
The seniors and children learned together about fire dangers, safety precautions and watched a demonstration on how firemen put on their uniforms and equipment. The children and senior members had fun trying on one of the fireman’s uniforms and taking pictures as they toured their fire truck parked outside. The members of Lucy Anne’s Place and children shared a wonderful learning experience and felt like great heroes at the end of the day. The afternoon ended with fire fighters handing out hats and stickers for the children and senior members.
With an eye on future needs for both older adults and the younger generation, Benevilla has established a highly recognized intergenerational program. The program brings together Wirtzie’s Preschool and Child Care and Lucy Anne’s Place, the only day program in the state of Arizona that specializes in early to mid-stages of dementia related illnesses and is the first life enrichment program in Arizona to feature a specific space for intergenerational activities. Children from 1 to 5 years old have the unique opportunity to share space and experiences with older adults. Programs include daily exercises, art projects, reading and many other life enriching activities.
“It takes a great deal of compassion and creativity to build a community where members of every generation want to live together” says Joanne Thomson, Benevilla President and CEO. “Through our Intergenerational Program, both our young and senior members come together to grow, learn about themselves and each other and form vibrant relationships that can be life changing.”
Studies have shown that children participating in intergenerational programs demonstrate higher levels of social acceptance, willingness to help, empathy and ability to self-regulate.
Wirtzie’s Preschool and Child Care is located on the main campus of the nonprofit agency Benevilla in the Hellen and John M. Jacobs Independence Plaza in Surprise. It opened in 2010 and provides care services for children ages 1 to 5. In 2016, Wirtzie’s received accreditation from the National Accreditation Commission for Early Care and Education Programs. For more information, call 623-207-6022 or visit www.Wirtzies.com.
Started by the community and for the community in 1981, Benevilla is a nonprofit human services agency dedicated to enhancing the lives of West Valley residents by providing care services for older adults, intellectually disabled adults, children, and families. For more information on services, volunteer opportunities, to schedule a tour or donate to Benevilla, call 623-584-4999 or visit www.benevilla.org.