Saturday, November 20, 2010

St. John's Grandkids, Springfield, MN

"We used to all stand when we played,"she says as she grins. "Now we like to sit down."

Springfield, a Minnesota city located little over two hours' drive west of Minneapolis, has a wonderful intergenerational campus appropriately called The Circle of Care, which includes St. John Lutheran Home, which is a home for seniors; The Maples, which is an assisted living unit; Cottonwood Estates, which is HUD senior housing; and St. John's Grandkids, a Pre-school.

Months ago, when I received an email from Chris Stark asking me to do my show at the pre-school, the name of the pre-school, St. John's Grandkids intrigued me, and I thought then that a pre-school is a wonderful addition to a home for seniors. The name, St. John's Grandkids, inspired images of intergenerational projects and visits, of parents picking up their kids after work and maybe having time to visit a grandparent or other seniors, and of stories being told because someone is there to listen.
Well, you know how I feel about the importance of stories being passed on.

On November 16, 2010, Nancy and I arrive early, as we usually do, and drive around the city for awhile. We discover that Springfield has a big park next to the river which runs through town. Included in the park are the athletic fields for the schools and a campground. Although the city is not large, we spot several restaurants, a large hotel, a department store, a grocery store and Springfield medical Center, which is part of the Mayo health System.

All this is impressive and helps build our enthusiasm to meet the staff, residents, and kids.
Before we set up, we listen to a trio of musicians entertaining in the chapel area where we are to perform at 3:30 PM. By their own admission, these folks have been musicians a long time. Nancy and I enjoy listening to the variety of music, and we especially like the brand of humor used by the lady on the guitar as she introduces each number.
"We used to all stand when we played,"she says as she grins. "Now we like to sit down."
"Now we all like to sit down," she jokes.

When the musicians finish, we hurry to set up as the residents watch and several staff members purchase books. I begin the show as soon as the kids are seated. 

As you can see from the photos, the range of age is probably from about 2 or 3 to over 90. This is truly intergenerational. 
One of the staff takes a picture of the event.

Young and old, alike, laugh at the picture of  Dad clowning with the cow's tail.

Picture of my parents' farm.

When I relate how my parents started farming in 1940, the kids listen intently while the old, experienced folks subtly nod and smile with wisdom.

As parents stop by to pick up their kids, they stay to watch the show, visit with staff and residents, and browse and buy books. After the show they chat with me as I sign them.  No one seems in a big hurry to leave. I like the interaction.

I often get asked which audiences I like best, old or young. It is, of course, a question I can't answer. I like to put smiles on faces whether the face is one lined with the wisdom of age or lit with the wonder of youth. The people in the middle are pretty fun to have in the audience too.

Photographs by Nancy A. Fredrickson

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for sharing this story about Springfield. Although I am certainly familiar with this prairie town in southwestern Minnesota, I was unaware of the tri-purpose, inter-generational campus. What a novel and great idea.