Thursday, January 6, 2011

Corliss Students Connect with Senior Citizens through Memory Bridge

Corliss High School has participated in the "Memory Bridge" program for the past two years after school. Corliss students have built a rapport with residents at Waterfront Terrace facility, located at 7750 S Shore Drive. There tends to be the stereotype that teenagers and the elderly might not be able to make a connection with each other. "Memory Bridge" proves, however, that this is just not true. Corliss students have come back from their "Buddy visits" with new-found appreciation of the life-experiences of the residents at Waterfront Terrace. For example, one woman--who is 103 years old!--shared her story of growing up in Mississippi and picking "500 pounds of cotton" when she was younger. Another Buddy impressed his student with his experience of having survived being shot. These stories certainly have given the participants real-world examples of what is covered in the textbook. So even though "Memory Bridge" is a program designed for students to help another person overcome the effects of Alzheimer's and dementia, it has had a tremendous impact on how teenagers see the world.

Another way that the program has impacted Corliss students is in the classroom. Students spent a couple weeks getting to know each other and learning the cardinal principles of "respect, attention, and energetic empathy" before they even step foot in the facility to interact with their "Buddies". These in-class sessions require students to view videos about what to expect with their visits, create an "I-land" map about themselves to share with their classmates and get to knoweach other better, and reflect on their experiences in their visits afterwards. Students improved their listening skills by attending to their classmates when they are presenting and also responding to the experiences of others.

It has made their teacher, Mr. Davis, proud to see the respect each student has given to classmates--even when sharing details about themselves they never have divulged before. In this way the program has had an impact on student success in the classroom. Teachers rarely have the opportunity to make a connection with their students on such a personal level. Yet "Memory Bridge" allowed Mr. Davis the opportunity to share who he is with his students through his own "I-land map"--while also having a deeper appreciation of who they are--so that he can work more effectively with them in his Social Science or Spanish class.

In these ways Corliss High School students and teachers have benefited from participating in the "Memory Bridge" program the past two years. While the program is designed to impact members of the community and meet a need of the elderly--which it certainly has by making a connection between the high school and Waterfront Terrace--this additional benefit makes it a truly successful endeavor for Corliss High School students.

1 comment:

  1. This is a wonderful program that facilitates students having wonderful experiences in the classroom and outside of it as well. It's great to see that it's alive and prospering through so many years!