Agassiz Legion Branch 32 celebrated it’s multi-generational community recently, giving both youngsters and seniors a chance to spend some quality time together.
Grade six students of Kent Elementary spent a morning taking a scenic walk to Pioneer Park while pushing about 15 wheelchair-bound residents from the Cheam, Glenwood and Logan Manor, followed by a group lunch of ACE burgers at the Legion.
The idea isn’t new – three years young, in fact –but has been well-appreciated by local seniors and students alike since local legion youth chairman Jim Johnson initiated the event.
“After the first wheelchair walk it became easy [to organize],” Johnson said. Everyone recognized the benefits.”
Johnson, a retired teacher from Ontario, actually began the memorable event during his years of teaching almost 30 years ago in the small town of Powassan, which had a large seniors home, he said.
One of his past students had moved on to working for the seniors home, and had approached him to see if his class would be interested in taking the residents for a push around the block.
“I jumped at the chance,” he explained. “I liked to get my students out of the classroom getting practical experience.”
He noted that several days were spent preparing the students to be polite and about the proper etiquette around seniors.
Now, living here and organizing intergenerational days locally, Johnson still remembers how “beautifully” the first walk and push went three decades ago. The walk was about three blocks, with the first street having no sidewalk, including a set of railway tracks, and some areas of downhill road.
Upon returning back to the school after the walk, Johnson led a follow-up discussion with his students about how they thought the walk went.
“Two boys jumped up with smiles on their faces, ” he said. “They had pushed a 93-year-old woman, who upon seeing the two blocks going downhill, said to the boys, ‘give me a push and let me go.'”
This year, new memorable moments were made for Johnson.
The group of both 11 and 12-year-olds and seniors made sure to pose in front of The Observer on their way back to the Legion – a photo that’s become a tradition.
“This year, while getting our picture taken, one of the seniors got to bounce his great grand-daughter on his kneed for the first time,” Johnson recalled, noting he could see a “smile on his face.”