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Programs > Service-Learning > Docs > Archive > Sherry Unger > 2008
GATE Cares for Seniors

Southeast Middle School GATE program members, Baltimore City, EllaJay Parfitt, EllJPar@aol.com

GATE students visited the nursing home once a month bringing gifts that they made for the residents. Students provided vital companionship and good cheer by singing, playing cards and board games, reading, or talking with the residents at the nursing home.

Best Practice 1: What recognized community need was met by your project (e.g. health, education, environmental or public safety need)?One of the GATE coordinators drives by the nursing home every day and she noticed not many cars seemed to be in the visitors’ lot. She stopped and went in and met with the social director and asked if people visited the residents frequently. The social director explained that many of the residents had no family. The GATE coordinator brought the suggestion back to the class that they become the new family for some of the residents. Students placed the idea on a list of project ideas and began to look at each idea individually in light of how best to effect some change. In the end, the GATE Cares for Seniors was the idea that the students felt would make the greatest change in the community and would directly help the residents of the Heritage Nursing Home.

Best Practice 2: How was the project connected to school curriculum (e.g. what course outcomes were met and/or how did the project reinforce or enhance student academic learning)?

A. Mental and Emotional Health

1. Recognize and apply effective communication skills.

a. Identify barriers to effective communication.

b. Utilize/model strategies to overcome barriers when communicating information, ideas, emotions, and opinions.

c. Analyze effective communication in everyday situations.

A. Personal and Consumer Health

1. Demonstrate the ability to access and describe, health information, products, and services in order to become health literate consumers.

a. Describe society’s responsibility for maintaining and improving the quality and availability of health care.

• Health clinics

• Physicians

• Medicaid/Medicare

• Governmental agencies

• Community based Organizations

Fine Art Visual/ Performing

  • The creation of visual and performances to increase the student’s communication of the arts to others.

Students were able to put into practice information that they learned in class and enhance their skills.

Best Practice 3: How did you reflect on your experience throughout the project?
Students kept journals on their experience prior to, during, and post visits to the nursing home. The students used pictures that they made for this project as part of the GATE Expo presentation at the end of the school year. Students also began to think of ways to help get the message out about the rich history that is being lost when people do not interact with and listen to senior citizens.

Best Practice 4: How did students take leadership roles and take responsibility for the success of the project?
Each month, a different student made the decision of what small gift was going to be made and by what date the gifts and students needed to be at the home for the residents. The ability of the students to map out each month and make plans on who was going, what was going to be made, and if a small program would be preformed was what made this project work because the students had real ownership.

Best Practice 5: What community partners did you work with on this project (e.g. non-profits, civic organizations, business that provided donations, etc.)?
A local nursing home.

Best Practice 6: How did you prepare and plan ahead for the project?
A calendar was created. Project ideas were selected. Materials were purchased from GATE funds. Time was set aside for construction of gifts. During this preparation phase, students were also learning in class about the aging process and what happens to your body and mind when you get older. Students practiced how to read in a manner that would be enjoyable for seniors.

Best Practice 7: What knowledge and skills did students develop through this project?
As the year progressed, students began to become advocates for seniors. They look for ways they could brighten their days and help them maintain contact with the world around them. By the end of the year, some students even expressed a desire to possibly work in the health care field as professionals working with seniors. Students increased their communication skills, and life skills. Some students are looking at ways to be a grassroots advocacy group to help with the Medicare and Social Security problems that will be facing this country during their lifetime. This project will have a lifelong impact on some students and act as a reminder of what is needed when they reach the senior years.

Contact Information
Maryland State Department of Education
200 West Baltimore Street
Baltimore, MD 21201
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