The eighth grade of the NEMJDS goes to CARES every other Wednesday. CARES is a program run by CJFS that serves families affected by memory or movement disorders such as Alzheimer’s, dementia, Parkinson’s, or stroke. The kids have been going to CARES for the last two years and have learned a lot about the people there. They sit with the same groups of people every time, so they know them well. They also do activities with the participants, like playing pictionary. These activities can help to restore memories that the participants would have forgotten, and the eighth graders choose the activities. Recently the CARES participants helped the students create a painting to sell at the school’s gala. They first painted the background different shades of blue and green. Then, they worked together to paint flowers and a vase on top of the previously painted background. The painting sold for $150 at the gala!
The students can learn a lot from working with the participants. They learn to collaborate, and they learn patience by helping the participants and waiting for them to finish their pieces of the project respectfully. They also learn ways to get the participants who aren’t very talkative to open up, and talk about their lives. Even though the participants have memory loss, they still have a lot of life lessons to teach the children, and the students love hearing all of their stories. As you can likely see, this teaches both the eighth graders and participants many lessons and allows them to relate to each other.