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On Sunday, July 20, 2014, the Girl Scouts of Western New York Junior Troop #20025, from Brocton, visited the residents of Heritage Green Rehab. & Skilled Nursing facility in Greenhurst, New York.
The purpose of the visit was to sensitize the Girl Scouts to the process of aging. During the visit, the girl scouts spent time doing activities designed for them to experience what life is like for some elderly people. One of the hands-on activities included wearing glasses that simulated what it is like to have macular degeneration, blindness, and glaucoma. Another activity simulated what it would be like to have stiffened joints. With fingers taped together, the girls had to try to open a jar. One of their favorite activities was attempting to carry packages in one hand while walking with a walker or cane in the other. This activity simulated what it is like to have difficulties with mobility and balance. Next, with one arm restrained the girls had to get dressed in a button-up shirt, zipped-up pants, and lace-tied shoes. The remaining activities provided simulation for changes in touch, in taste, and in smell.
At the end of the day, the scouts went for a tour of the facility and smiled at residents along the way. They made a butterfly craft with many of the residents and snacked on popsicles, while they enjoyed each other’s company.
The residents were pleased to have the troop around for the day. Many shared their own experiences of being Girl Scouts with the girls. Several of the residents commented about how smart and beautiful the girls were and how much they enjoyed seeing them around the facility.
Troop leader, Melissa Seavy, organized the trip, because she it felt would be a unique opportunity for the girls to experience life as a resident in a skilled-nursing environment and to open their eyes to a small part of the healthcare world. She was pleased to be able to connect these young women with the seniors who built this community.
She explained, “These girls love giving back to our community and enjoyed spending time with the residents, just as much as the residents enjoyed spending time with them; it was a great intergenerational activity. These girls are heading into fifth and sixth grades. It is important to begin to expose them to different career paths, over the next several years, to get them thinking about what they want to do after high school. Girl Scouts of Western New York is committed to building girls of courage, of confidence, and of character who make the world a better place. This is just one building block to get them there.”
The Girl Scouts enjoyed the trip. Several girls commented about how nice it was to meet the residents and to hear their stories. They went on to say that it felt good to serve others. The Girl Scout promise states, “On my honor, I will try: To serve God and my country, To help people at all times, And to live by the Girl Scout Law.” This promise coincides with Heritage Ministries’ mission, “To serve others through Christ-centered ministries which promote, Hope, Dignity, and Purposeful Living.” The girl scouts and the residents felt a strong connection to each other during the trip and hope that others will arrange such activities for our community youth.
Heritage Ministries was pleased to host the girl scouts. Heritage encourages the community to see inside the walls of long-term healthcare. If you or your group would like to schedule a trip to visit with residents or to set up a time to volunteer, please call (716) 763-5608 for more information.
Heritage Ministries is a non-profit, human-service organization serving the western New York region and employing nearly 800 employees in Chautauqua County. Independent- and assisted-living residences for seniors are located at Heritage Village Retirement Campus in Gerry and at The Woodlands (on Southwestern Drive) in West Ellicott. Rehabilitation and skilled-nursing services are provided at Heritage Village in Gerry, Heritage Park in Jamestown, and Heritage Green in Greenhurst. For more information about Heritage Ministries, please call (716) 763-5608, visit at www.heritage1886.org, or LIKE Heritage at facebook.com/HeritageMinistries.