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Youngsters and seniors; area’s art project makes critical connections

Today’s Boomers and Beyond page (10A) features a story that is totally heartwarming.

The story, submitted to The Mining Journal by Amelia Pruiett of the Marquette Arts and Culture Center, shares information about the Cherry Creek Intergenerational Art Project. The project was born as a way to connect the youngsters at the school with older area residents through art.

Social distancing, while necessary, has created an even wider gap between generations. The senior generation, especially, has become isolated as our oldest citizens try to avoid exposure to the COVID-19 virus. That isolation can be lonely and that’s something the project looks to overcome.

The project was conceived by Cherry Creek Elementary and endorsed by the Marquette City Senior Center. The hope is to bridge the gap and foster new connections. The goal is to bring smiles to children as they create and to provide joy to seniors as they receive a small surprise in the mail.

Pruiett’s story conveys that more than “200 students of all ages illustrated shamrocks, rainbows and pots of gold to wish a fellow community member a happy St. Patrick’s Day. The green crayon and color washes were gently tucked into envelopes and eventually arrived at the door of a participant in the city’s Homemaking Program. A simple moment of shared joy was gifted without breaching the social circle of safety; the Cherry Creek Intergenerational Art Project was born.”

Cherry Creek Elementary School Counselor Maryann Ferns worked with the school’s art room to create art in the quest to overcome the isolation of social distancing.

“I believe that we can bring together the two generations and in turn, strengthen the community,” Ferns said in the story. “We want the seniors to know that we care about them and hope they are doing well. We ultimately want to provide a smile, uplift the spirit, and brighten the day for those receiving the students’ art work. Beyond the practice of creation, this project became an opportunity for the kids to selflessly give to a stranger. They took a delight in having the chance to do something nice for others in their community without expecting anything in return — pure kindness.”

Ferns reached out to the city of Marquette’s Senior Services Manager, Maureen McFadden, to connect the school with aging adults living alone. The result was wonderful with happy feedback coming from the seniors who received the art.

“A child’s innocent perspective can bring so much joy to an otherwise dark time,” McFadden said in the story.

Ferns summed it up: “My heart sings to think of the hope and love found in Marquette County.”

We commend all involved in this project and we hope that schools everywhere become involved in similar projects as the pandemic continues — and even beyond that.

Sharing love is a hopeful enterprise any day of any year.

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