Special friendships: Preschoolers visit seniors at Eastwood Senior Living
Lindsay Ashworth has tears in her eyes as she describes the friendship Lillie and Adeline shared. It was an uncommon bond: Lillie was in daycare, and Adeline lived at Eastwood Senior Living. Their friendship started when Lindsay brought some kids from her family childcare, Lindsay’s Mora Family Childcare, to visit residents at Eastwood. After a few visits, Adeline started asking when Lillie was coming to see her. When her young friend was around, Adeline always had a smile on her face. Over the years, Lillie got to know Adeline’s family, and when Adeline passed away, she went to her funeral. She gave the family a framed photo of the two of them, both grinning.
Lindsay has been offering childcare since 2006, so she has a lot of stories – but memories like these have a special place in her heart. And, because she continues to bring kids from her childcare to visit Eastwood, friendships like Lillie and Adeline’s are common. “I hope it means something to the families of residents we visit,” she said. “I know it’s special to me. Even people from the community tell me they know these connections are special.”
Trips to Eastwood began six years ago, after Lindsay learned that the grandmother of a child she cared for worked at the senior community. When she came to pick up her granddaughter, she’d tell Lindsay about what the residents did that day. Lindsay, inspired by the potential for connection, asked if she could visit with some kids from daycare… and the rest is history.
Except for a break during the pandemic, Lindsay brings three or four preschoolers to Eastwood each month for “learn-and-play.” With the help of team members from Eastwood, Lindsay and her little visitors usually go door-to-door to invite residents to activities. And, as you may imagine, it’s hard to say no. From exercising with residents to trick-or-treating, everyone involved has a blast.
For Valentine’s Day this year, all the kids made cards for residents. “The smiles on their faces when a four-year-old gave them a handmade card…” Lindsay shared. “I’ve never seen anyone smile so big.” They’re already planning to make shamrocks for St. Patrick’s Day. “By the end of a visit, even more reserved kids are excited to give their new friend a hug,” Lindsay said. “They become comfortable with each other. For example, the kids call Mary ‘Grandma Mary’ and Walter ‘Grandpa Walter.’ It’s just so amazing to see – they truly become friends.”