K2 student Emily reaching out to an Apex Harmony Lodge resident at a recent celebration of World Alzheimer’s Day. 

Children from a church-run kindergarten and residents of a purpose-built home for persons with dementia joined hands
to celebrate World Alzheimer’s Day recently.

Thirty-eight residents of Apex Harmony Lodge (AHL) and 70 children from the Church of the Holy Trinity Kindergarten, for the first time, put on percussion and dance performances for the residents’ families, the children’s parents and the community on Sept 23.

The multi-generational event had the theme, Share our love, Make Connections. It was held in the church hall and was the culmination of a project that the kindergarten started in mid-2015. As part of their curriculum, the K2 children have been visiting AHL in Pasir Ris once a week, with each session lasting an hour, over a period of five weeks per class.

The children are paired up with residents and are encouraged to interact with them through planned activities such as games, and cooking, singing, and arts and crafts sessions.

“God is love, and it is this love that we want our children to experience,” said kindergarten principal Shirley Tan.

“We want to nurture children to … transform themselves and society,” she told CatholicNews.

A unique feature of the project is that the children themselves get a say on how they would like to interact with the residents. In this way the teaching and learning pedagogy is developed from the children’s own experiences, according to Ms Tan.

Furthermore, by getting the children to spend quality time with the residents over a period of five weeks, the moral values that they pick up after each session gets reinforced each week.

Student Braedon connecting with a person with dementia during a visit to Apex Harmony Lodge.

“I learned to be responsible, kind, nice and confident,” six-year-old Matthew wrote in his reflections on his experience with the residents.

Jeanette, six, wrote: “I took care of Aunty Jenny. She likes to walk around and dance cha cha.”

The kindergarten initiative has also been well-received by parents who said they observed positive behavioural changes in their children after they started volunteering at AHL.

“The five weeks of going there has subconsciously instilled a lot of compassion and patience in our boys,” said Ms Imala Ailani, who has two children in K2. “We already see the difference in how they speak to their grandparents.”

Another parent, Ms Serina Teo, commented: “By doing this consistently over a period of few weeks, it allows the children to develop an emotional attachment to the aunties and uncles. I feel that this works better in terms of inculcating moral values in the children as opposed to a one-off visit to a nursing home.” 

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