PANDORA — Thirty years ago Mennonite Home Communities of Ohio changed the way people saw senior living care by adding on Hilty Preschool and Child Care to Hilty Home, an addition that director Amanda Dettrow said allows both the kids and residents to grow.
Hilty Preschool and Child Care evolved from an idea 30 years ago from a group of mothers who were entering into the workforce and were need of a childcare facility, according to Dettrow.
From there an educational, faith-based intergenerational program developed, a first of its kind in the Lima-region area, according to Dettrow. Residents and children grow a rapport by engaging in interactive activities. The child care center also has programs for older children.
The preschool students and toddlers learn about topics like math, science, art and geography. Younger children focus on colors, the alphabet and time. There are three teachers, each supervising 12 kids.
Another aspect that sets this program apart is that it is play-based, according to Dettrow.
“Our big thing is always challenging the kids,” said Dettrow. “If a child builds a block tower with 17 blocks we are going to challenge them to build higher and do more. I feel that’s kind of where the play-based needs to be.”
During the intergenerational sessions, the elders engage with the children through playtime. Through the use of intergenerational coordinator, Kathy Webb, the residents are provided the opportunity to spend one-on-one time with the children.
“I really enjoy seeing the residents smile and their faces light up when they see the children,” said Webb.
The residents often share what their younger years were like, resulting in the children becoming more compassionate and grateful, Dettrow said.
“Grandparents use to babysit, but now they are working,” said Dettrow. “They are not able to do cooking activities every day, but we are allowing those opportunities to happen here and that’s an amazing and special thing. The kids need that and that is why we have this holistic program. We are not just raising kids to be ready for school — we are raising kids to be ready for life.”
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