Power of the pen

Photo by Joyce Ervin
Photographed writing a letter to their senior pen pals on their Chromebooks in Elizabeth Miller’s classroom at Symons Elementary School is Addy Leroy and Rory Ball.

By Joyce Ervin

There is a whole lot of writing going on these days in Milan as Symons Elementary School students and senior citizens have become pen pals.
Teachers, Elizabeth Miller and Nicole VanSickle have teamed up with director of operations and aging life coach at Milan Seniors for Healthy Living, Marie Gress, to bring generations together with the written word.
Gress said she was excited to learn that two classrooms of kids wanted to be pen pals with seniors. She has been working on developing intergenerational programs as communities are always stronger, she said, when generations pull together.
The students will improve writing skills and perhaps learn a thing or two about history. In terms of benefit to senior citizens, Gress said, “This will help with feelings of isolation and loneliness, which in turn combats depression, increased dexterity for those who hand write, engage their minds and memories, and just fun reading these letters.”
There are approximately 55 students involved and 42 seniors writing. According to senior Linda Squires, this should be fun, she said, when she signed up for the program. Her pen pal’s name is Joey and he is in the fourth-grade. Squires said, “Yes, it was fun to get his letter and have him tell me about himself and the things that were important to him.”
Squires comes from a five-generation Milan family noting they arrived in the Michigan wilderness to obtain land traveling by covered wagon. She said, I hoped that my mentioning that my family had been here for generations might spark his interest. If not, we’ll talk about things that he’s interested in. “
Edward Wollman has some pen pals too. He said he never knew his grandparents and that left a void in his life. He was not able to share with an older generation. He wondered if that wouldn’t be true of some of the youngsters. He’s ready to share a void if necessary. He summed up with, “This is a wonderful thing.”

Joyce Ervin is a freelance writer reporting on Milan. She can be contacted at: jlervin42 [at] yahoo [dot] com.

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