The tropical strum of 20 ukuleles and a lone bass filled the activity room at Southfort Bend Gardens on Tuesday (May 22) afternoon.
The concert was courtesy of students from Sherwood Park’s Wye Elementary, who were at the seniors residence along with their peers from SouthPointe School to participate in a local program designed to strengthen connections between youth and seniors.
About 29 SouthPointe students in grades 5 and 6 have been visiting Southfort Bend once a month since the start of the school year as part of Seniors and Youth Networking Communities (SYNC).
Wye music teacher Monique Boyer brought her ukulele ensemble to Fort Saskatchewan to provide entertainment at Tuesday's gathering, with the young musicians leading their audience through a singalong of old favourites, including Jamaican Farewell and the Glory of Love.
“We come out twice a year. We come out at Christmas to do a carol sing,” Boyer said, adding that the performances give the students a great opportunity to practice their talents and share some conversation with seniors.
SYNC was started five years ago by educators Carole Bossert and Jessica Smith. Bossert, who now teaches Grade 1 at SouthPointe, said she and Smith came up with the program when they were both working at James Mowat School.
"She and I were just talking about a way that we could give back to the community and a way that we could connect our students. And together we kind of came up with this idea and it just keeps growing and growing and growing,” she said.
James Mowat School continues to run its SYNC program. Last year Bossert helped Fort Christian School get its own SYNC up and running. Fort Christian students are now regular visitors to local seniors residence Dr. Turner Lodge.
Between the three schools about 200 children participate in the program every year, spending time singing, playing board games, making crafts and building friendships with local seniors.
Bossert said that the children have forged strong bonds with their older friends.
"It's the connections between two different generations. It's the storytelling. It's the learning. It's the growing,” she said. “It's not just seeing their senior friend at Southfort Bend Gardens. It's seeing them at the grocery store or walking their dog down the street. It's the connection. And it's an incredible thing.”
Judith Christie, who lives in the Southfort seniors housing next door to the Gardens building, has been taking taking part in SYNC for four years.
"It's been very interesting and we meet so many different children from different walks of life,” she said. “And it's fun. It's great fun.”