Therapeutic Recreation Students Partner with "Buddies" at Morning Pointe

Morning Pointe photo

Every Monday afternoon, 26 Eastern Kentucky University students visit the Morning Pointe assisted living facility in Richmond to provide therapeutic recreation services to 15 participating senior residents.

Sherry Jones, professor in EKU’s Recreation and Park Administration department, has collaborated with Mariah Fosdick, Morning Pointe’s life enrichment director, to combine residents’ varied needs with students’ needs for hands-on learning in REC 411S, Therapeutic Recreation Services for Senior Adults.

REC 411S is a service-learning class that requires students to participate in a “buddy project.” Students plan activities and visit a senior “buddy” on a weekly basis, putting their therapeutic recreation knowledge into action. In the past, students found their own buddies at various facilities across the community, “but we wanted something more structured than that,” Jones said. Thus, the partnership between Morning Pointe and EKU began in fall 2012.

“It really is a win-win situation,” Jones said. “We sometimes forget how much this benefits us as well as the residents. Life does not end at 50. The seniors really just want to give. As leisure service providers, the hands-on experience is great. Who benefits more? I really do not know.”

Beginning September 16, students met and began planning activities specifically for their buddies.

“Activities are not just about bingo or puzzles, but about healthy, active living and staying plugged in with the community,” Fosdick said. “As the life enrichment director, my job is not to just lead in-house activities. It is to tap into residents’ interests and draw in outside community connections to make activities new and purposeful. EKU students are a huge part of the Richmond community, and Morning Pointe is so blessed to have the REC 411 class engaging each of the residents. Students began by asking the residents questions of past hobbies and skills and have come up with some very creative ways of getting the residents to participate.”

One resident, Nick Martin, enjoys technology and learning about the new trends in the field. His buddies, Kyle Johnson and Mike Dizarn, used that interest to plan a geocaching trip to Lake Reba. Another resident, Elzie Nicely, enjoyed woodworking in the past, so his buddies, Stephanie Cole and Trenton Graham, have worked with him on building an intricate wooden dollhouse. Nila Cheap’s buddies tapped into her passion of painting and creating and, together, they have made seasonal artwork, flowerpot paintings and much more. Residents also have taken the opportunity to teach students games like Rook and bridge, play board games, garden and teach and perform piano pieces.

“Some residents just want to talk,” Jones said, “and I think that’s OK too.”

Fosdick said that “relationships that develop between the students and residents and the intergenerational connecting is a lot of fun to see blossom. Both the residents and the students are learning each other’s stories, and the residents look forward to each Monday afternoon because their buddies are coming. I heard Nila say, ‘I wonder what the girls will bring for me to make next week,’ and Ann Curtis say, ‘It is so nice of them to come and visit.’ Mr. Elzie said, ‘If my daughters come in, make sure they get to see the house.’”

Published on November 19, 2013