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Students and seniors share stories and geography savvy

December, 2009

Vista residents and Grade 5 Willingdon pupils came together this November to share personal experiences that span four generations.

The residence and the English Montreal School Board (EMSB) have organized the program that brings students from across the city to participate in activities with the Vista residents. The first event was a geography game similar to Trivial Pursuit. Residents and students were placed in groups where they answered questions together; in their downtime, they shared stories and ate snacks supplied by the children.

“We were talking about my experience during the war in England and the gas masks,” said Mrs. Ricketts, a resident. “I said I was sorry that they took the gas masks back at the end of the war because I used to use them for cleaning up. I was trying to think of things that would interest [the children] or make them laugh.” “The kids started to realize, ‘Hey, Mrs. Ricketts lived through the war’,” said Joanne Kennedy, vice-president for strategic communication.

Mrs. Ricketts told the students about the bombings that she experienced in England. “Oh yes, when the sirens went, we used to run down to the shelters.”

“And [the students] were shocked that bombs could have dropped on a city,” Kennedy said. “They had no comprehension of that.”

Mr. Pesner, another resident who participated in the activity told the kids stories about his experience being a pilot in the Second World War.

“The kids think that all of the soldiers have passed away,” said Ronald Brunet, general manager of the residence. “They were so captivated by the stories. It was pretty amazing to see everyone realize that this is for real.”

Chidren from Willingdon School with Vista residents during the “Canada Games”

Some of the participants were shy at first, but icebreakers were enmeshed in the game — soon everybody was laughing and talking.

At one point everyone had to pull out a card with an action on it and they had to perform that action. Mr. Pesner got “do the Charleston,” which had his entire table laughing, Brunet said.

The game was reminiscent of Trivial Pursuit in the sense that they had to move their pieces across the board by answering the questions correctly. “Some of the kids knew the answers better than I did,” Mrs. Ricketts said.

They named the activity Canada Games. The children were telling everyone about the places they had visited. Discussions and memories were sparked by the questions.

“I think it’s just reaching out and hearing everyone’s story,” Brunet said.

“It’s an inter-generational project and it’s within the community. It hit a lot of elements that are important to this community at Vista.”

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