This week’s Club Hub feature will be spotlighting Students for Seniors, a club running for its third year since Tatheer Adnan founded the club in 2013.
The primary goal of Students for Seniors is to foster interactions between high school students and senior citizens, more specifically, nursing home residents. Club members have organized activities such as pen pal projects and holiday events that over the past two years received great response from the staff and residents at Silver Lake Nursing Home, the main affiliation of the club. For one Valentine’s Day event, the club members worked together to produce over a hundred paper flowers to give to each resident.
Adnan recounts a particularly memorable event around Christmas one year. A group of at least ten members traveled to the nursing home to introduce some holiday cheer to the residents. First, all members got together and caroled regardless of singing ability; it was a huge hit among the audience. Then, the room was broken into teams, with a team consisting of two students, five or six senior citizens, and one staff member. These diverse groups were pitted against one another in a gingerbread-making contest. Club members made sure everyone had a chance to be involved and in the end, as a product of everyone’s input, the winner of the most beautiful house was difficult to choose.
Ultimately, the club has gained the ability to create unlikely bonds and friendships between individuals at least half a century in age apart. It’s certainly come a long way from the SERP research project it was initially based on. Adnan explains that she decided on a SERP project that focused on how social interactions could improve the physical health of nursing home residents. She hypothesized that with Students for Seniors, students could collaborate with seniors in order to reduce their social isolation, and, therefore, improve their physical health.
When asked if there really is a correlation, she replied, “I think that we would need to be going there a little more regularly to observe that effect. But I think it definitely has made a change. Many of the residents that we’ve worked with have requested that we come more often or that we make it something that’s weekly or every weekend. So they’re definitely appreciating us. They really do enjoy the time we spend with them. Over time, you feel morally obligated to be there more often and it’s a lot of fun visiting too.”
Adnan has many exciting new plans for the club to be introduced this year. The first is music therapy sessions since some members are a part of band, such as Adnan herself, or play instruments on their own. Furthermore, a junior’s SERP project intrigued her to begin a program of pet therapy sessions for the senior citizens and she hopes to contact the person that can make that into a reality soon. Her most audacious goal is to introduce a technology center to the nursing home. She plans to go to businesses willing to donate products to the nursing home and if received, club members would teach residents how to use the computers or other equipment. Students for Seniors already works closely with the not for profit organization, Lifestyles for the Disabled, which has been providing sugarless food for residents and videotaping the holiday events. Adnan hopes to continue that partnership this year.
As a member, I’ve seen first-hand how volunteering at a nursing home can be a fun and rewarding experience. Essentially, Students for Seniors links two communities that ordinarily wouldn’t likely interact. As a result, both parties have a chance to learn and draw energy from one another. If this is something you would like to be part of, catch meetings Fridays after school.