As an Adult Day Connection participant, Pat Curtner spends most of her days interacting with other ADC participants and staff. One day, Pat was sitting in the Lewis and Clark lobby and saw a parent bringing their young child to the Robert G. Combs Language Preschool down the hall, and it sparked her interest. Pat expressed a desire to spend time with the preschoolers, a request which the two programs were more than happy to fulfill. Now, on Monday and Wednesday mornings, you will find “Grandma Pat,” as the children call her, assisting with crafts, playing, and reading in the preschool.
Although Pat formerly held careers in medical records, photography, care giving, and substitute teaching, she has always found great joy in working with kids. She was involved in Sunday school and children’s choir, where the nickname Grandma Pat first came about. “Anytime I can work with little kids I do, because big kids talk back,” joked Pat. “Most of the kids are pretty happy-go-lucky at this age, and I can relate to that.”
Pat is not the first ADC participant to spend time in the language preschool, but it has been a while since the last person regularly visited. Greta Hull, Director of the R.G. Combs Language Preschool, thinks it is has been a wonderful experience. “The benefits for both parties are evident; the children have more access to people they might not see on a regular basis and new opportunities to enhance their communication skills, and it brings a spark to Pat’s eyes,” explains Greta. Carolyn Anderson, ADC’s Activity Coordinator, also commented on Pat’s visits saying, “She loves it, and you can tell because she comes back to ADC in a great mood and is all smiles.” Pat started at the ADC several months ago and has been visiting the preschool for a few weeks now.
Interaction between the preschoolers and ADC participants is encouraged on a regular basis. The children usually go over to the ADC for crafts and games, but that can be overwhelming at times. Pat enjoys going over to the kids, though, because she develops deeper connections, “So many of them remember my name and that tickles me. And if they know your name, they’re even more likely to ask for help.”
In the future, the two programs hope to encourage more intergenerational interactions through the use of the patio space outside of Lewis and Clark halls. Toys and equipment, picnic tables, and tiered garden planters for varying levels of accessibility create an optimal space for shared activities. As for Grandma Pat, she plans to continue visiting the preschool for as long as possible and hopes to start reading books with the children.