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In January of 2002, residents of Copeland Oaks Retirement Community in Sebring, Ohio and First Grade students at Greentown Elementary School in North Canton, Ohio came together to participate in an intergenerational program. The school's technology specialist and two first grade teachers developed the program to help expand the written and social skills of their first grade students through interactive learning activities with older adults.

During a monthly meeting of the Copeland Oaks Computer Users Group, the school personnel explained the program to residents at Copeland Oaks and asked for volunteers. Volunteers filled out forms with their name, phone number and e-mail addresses to indicate that they were willing to participate in the program.

During a two month period, four bi-weekly meetings were held. Copeland Oaks residents visited Greentown Elementary School for two of the meetings. Greentown students traveled with their teachers and school principal to Copeland Oaks for the other two meetings via school bus. The meetings at the retirement community took place in the campus community rooms and the school meetings were held in the classrooms. In both cases, tours of the facilities were also given. The meetings consisted of structured activities along with some unplanned "free time" for interaction and lasted approximately 1 hour.

Students participated in aging simulation activities in the classroom which were designed to give them a greater understanding of some of the physical challenges their Grandbuddies might face. Intergenerational themed lessons were also introduced in the classroom before, during, and following the project. Teachers made an effort to expose the students to children's literature that depicted aging as a natural and life long process during story hours throughout the course of the project.

In most cases, the Copeland Oaks residents maintained contact with the students between meetings via e-mail correspondence. Parents were asked to monitor and assist the students with home e-mail capabilities and students who did not have access to e-mail in their homes conducted their correspondence through the classroom teachers' school e-mail accounts.

At each meeting, the students interviewed their Grandbuddies about their lives with a list of questions that had been prepared prior to the meeting. Residents responded to the questions and shared stories about themselves and their interests with the students as well as helping their little friends take notes. In the non-meeting weeks the students worked on developing stories about their Grandbuddies from the information they collected during the interviews. These stories were bound into books that were presented to the residents by the students at the final meeting. Each student also received a copy of his/her own book as a keepsake of the project.

After the project meetings had formally ended, many of the residents continued to visit the school. Grandbuddies stopped in to eat lunch in the cafeteria and attend classroom performances.

The following pages offer a brief synopsis of the Grandbuddies Project meetings along with photos of the participants in action:

Meeting 1 | Simulation Centers | Meeting 2 | Meeting 3 | Final Meeting