Melding generations

Sruthi Yejju
Young and old interact at Noah's Ark. Here children participate in a parade at the Communities of Maple Lawn.

The Noah’s Ark Children’s Center is an integral part of the Communities of Maple Lawn in Eureka. The director of the children’s center, Ruth Ann Silver, aptly portrayed it as a child care facility on the property of a retirement community.

The children’s center, Silver said, was started more than 25 years ago.

“This was a vision that people had at that time and it’s such a blessing. Just the children walking in the building brings smiles to our faces and that is our goal – to make the residents here smile,” Silver said.

She added that this intergenerational program, where children from ages six weeks to 12 years in the children’s center, interact with the senior residents of the retirement community on a regular basis, was one of the first such programs started in the country.

“This intergenerational program at Maple Lawn has also won awards and is such a life enriching experience for both the young and old,” Silver said.

According to Silver, each age group at Noah’s Ark interacts with seniors living at the Maple Lawn Community. They have planned activities as well as impromptu visits, which help foster relationships of unconditional love and acceptance.

“Residents are at the heart of everything we do. We regularly put on a program in the health center with senior citizens. Children visit the apartments to read to the seniors,” Silver said.

“Every day we have a child around the seniors that live here. We invite the seniors to come and see us and we go to see them. The usefulness of children to the seniors is amazing. It makes the seniors feel young.”

Every month each classroom is given a resident of the month to visit. The children take pictures, sing songs or just share hugs with the residents.

Crafts, exercising, singing, holiday events and sharing experiences are a few examples of the activities that both generations enjoy at the Noah’s Ark.

For the Fourth of July celebrations this year, Silver said the children helped decorate the wheelchairs and made hats for themselves. The children and seniors then went to Circle Drive and had their own Independence Day parade there.

Silver told about another tradition they have at the Maple Lawn, called the Maple Dance, that the children and seniors have on May Day. This year they passed several maple baskets too to the seniors.

“Just recently we had another beautiful activity,” she added. “Several seniors have been hatching butterfly cocoons in their apartments. The children and the seniors recently released the butterflies and it was such a beautiful sight!

Upcoming activities include a fishing trip.

“The seniors can teach the children how to fish and the children can probably provide a few laughs,” Silver said.

The Noah’s Ark Children’s Center now has openings for children of all ages, from six- week-old infants to 12-year- old kids.

According to Silver, the center offers children a rich curriculum enabling early learning in the areas of school readiness skills, language experiences, music, arts and crafts, prescience, math and reading, creative movement, large motor skills and Bible stories.

“Noah’s Ark strives to provide a secure, stimulating and friendly environment for the children.”

The children’s center is located in the same campus as the seniors’ residences, at the 100 acres Maple Lawn campus. The Maple Lawn community caters to children, residents and the public from Eureka and other surrounding communities including Metamora.

The children’s center includes day care, preschool and pre-kindergarten.

For more information about the Noah’s Ark Children’s Center and the Maple Lawn community, visit the Web site www.maple-lawn.com or call Ruth Ann Silver at 467-9050 or e-mail her at ruthann.silver@maple-lawn.com.