Every year the children at Bedford Hills Elementary School are involved in Community projects throughout the area. With the warm weather, the chance to spring a little life and color to the residents of Somers Manor suddenly presented itself, according to 5th grade teacher Mark Ceconi. 5th graders sent over plants and flowers with poems and cards contained within pots designed by all. “They personalized each pot so each child had a little bit of them in the pot, said Ceconi.
They didn’t accompany the pots to Somers Manor because the project came calling without much notice. Although always open to the possibility of children’s visits, said Joanne Nelson, director of Volunteers and Recreation, because “I believe it really does help for the continuing of their understanding of the residents, and the population if they come over and see for themselves.”
A power point presentation would – for this year – have to substitute for the next best thing. On the other hand, the quality of their work seems as though it surpassed the restraints of the virtual experience. “The kids gave a lot of themselves in the project. It was evident in the final result, and the residents really felt that and perceived that,” said Ms. Nelson.
The project also intended to give the children an expanded perspective on the circle of life and how time moves on and things change. Closing in on middle school, they are starting to see that more freedom and less hand holding comes with a price. “This whole thing, it’s a trend, growing older and accepting responsibility for things,” said Ceconi.
And along with the pots and the poetry, the children were required to study their lineage and where their grandparents and great grandparents fit into the history in their textbooks. “They are a wonderful resource for learning about our own history, and our own family background,” said Ceconi.
Having lived the past, the residents at Somers Manor enjoyed the plants and appreciated the gesture that the effort symbolized – without requiring a footnote in the history books. “They felt really special, and they felt that they are remembered by the younger generation,” said Nelson.
An effort that came easily to them, according to Ceconi. “They were overjoyed to be able to bring a little happiness into people’s lives,” he said, and it’s a feeling that responds to more than just the sunlight on their window sills.
Thinking that they must have some poetry program at the school, Nelson felt that, “The poems were well thought out,” and better than she could do. So much so, the residents carry them around on their person or with them in their wheelchairs or walkers.
But the children also learned importantly that nursing homes mean more than just sadness in the absence of flowers or the pitter patter of fast moving feat. In addition to serving adults of all ages in rehab, there’s activities, parties and off site excursions like shopping trips. “I think it opened their eyes a bit,” said Nelson.
Eyes were opened from the inside too. When about 80 well decorated plants arrived at their doorstep on recently, “Everyone was oohing and aahing as we brought them in and I told them where they came from,” said Ms. Nelson of the staff, visitors and relatives present.
One relative felt the need to suggest an activity like this at the nursing home she works at but, she also expressed an impact which hit closer to home, according to Nelson. “My mom felt so special and so honored by those children and what you guys did for her, there’s no words to describe it,” relayed Nelson in conclusion.
Rich Monetti interview of Mark Ceconi and Joanne Nelson