Children and their elders

“They’re at the corner!” »

The man who just interrupted us enthusiastically is called Roger. He wanted Christine Patenaude, head of recreation at the Caléo seniors’ residence, to know that the children were almost there.

Christine smiles, two thumbs up, and continues: “It’s a project that changes the daily lives of residents, but it’s a big investment on the part of the teachers! It’s part of my job, organizing activities… But for them, it’s their motivation that takes them out of the box. »

Barely gone, Roger is back: “They are at the door! »

His excitement is contagious. I follow him and station myself near the elders impatient to see those they call “their little ones”. Then, the 70 fourth graders finally enter.

Residents greet them as they take off their boots, coats and snow pants. They have just walked 30 minutes, braving the last freezing day of winter to meet up with their old friends.


Although she is not participating in the project, a resident introduces her dog to the children.

They gather around me, curious: “Are we going to be in the newspaper?” » I confirm this and ask them what they like about the twinning program that brings them here. The responses come flooding in: “I like to see My eldest”, “knowing your experiences to compare them to mine”, “missing school”, “eating”, “it’s like our grandparents”, “time flies so quickly when I chat with My Elder ! »

Their elders. My heart melts.

Véronique Cadrin has long dreamed of a program to strengthen intergenerational ties. Her mother having Alzheimer’s disease, Véronique has been attending CHSLDs for years. She quickly understood that while contact with the elderly can be destabilizing, it is above all nourishing. Her colleagues Anne-Valérie Lefort and Vincent Tremblay, like her, used to orchestrate one-off activities to break the isolation of seniors, but this year, they decided to push the concept further.


Professor Anne-Valérie Lefort (center) not only knows how to create promising initiatives, but she also knows how to play American shuffleboard (shuffleboard).

Last September, the three teachers at De la Broquerie primary school, in Boucherville, invited their students to write a letter to introduce themselves to the tenants of the Caléo residence. They had previously convinced around thirty seniors to participate in monthly activities with 10 and 11 year olds. Pairings were made based on what each child had written and the personality of the residents… Then, the magic happened.

Since this first correspondence, the gang has decorated pumpkins, had brunch and read stories over hot chocolate. Today, she wanders between four stations: Scattergories table game, pocket tournament, American shuffleboard (shuffleboard) and pétanque.


The list of pairings is displayed. If a resident or student is absent, the groups are reorganized.

As I walk towards the room where the activities take place, I come across a resident who is taking two young people in her arms. My hand instinctively places itself against my heart. (Impossible to note all the times my heart will sink during this report without getting drunk; I promise to go sparingly.)

I find Roger playing pockets with his wife Hélène, then the twins Émile and Sarah. The Aubins have been a couple for 54 years. They have never been parents, but they love children.

I laugh like crazy when they are there. It’s like I’m their age. Generally, it’s quiet here. There, it’s brewing! It creates a bit of anarchy, there’s a buzz that feels good… Life, that is.

Roger, resident of Caléo


Vincent Tremblay, one of the three teachers who created the project, hosts a game of Scattergories.

What is magnificent about this quartet is that the relationship goes beyond the program imagined by the teachers. During the holidays, the couple, the children and their parents had lunch together before playing pool and swimming at the residence.

If the young people breathe their energy into the couple, the elders also have a lot to offer them, believes Hélène: “When they come, we have the time to listen to them and be there 100%. Even if their family is extraordinary and attentive, we are no longer in the annoyance and stress of life… I think that does them good. »

The teachers confirm this to me. Anne-Valérie Lefort and Valérie Cadrin explain to me that to encourage academic motivation, we must help young people connect with the world. For them, we must mix education and community.

Here, children rub shoulders with a population that they rarely see. The difference stimulates them. Even more, these decision-makers of tomorrow are coming into contact with ageism and its injustices.


After playing pockets, Roger, Hélène and the twins Émile and Sarah opted for a table game.

Véronique Cadrin makes no secret of it, her wish is that the initiative shines and inspires colleagues to try the adventure with seniors in their region.

“School is French, maths and know-how, but it is also know-how and good manners,” explains Anne-Valérie Lefort. We see the positive effects in the children, their bright eyes! »

We see their hands, too. That of a student with an oppositional disorder currently rests in that of her Elder. The teachers are blown away.

This is not the only touching scene we witness. Near the pocket game, a woman who is not part of the program lets the little ones pet her dog. Several residents come to the area when the students arrive. Their presence seems to do good.


Goodbyes are tender.

“They are effervescent,” Sophie Desmarais will rightly tell me.

An hour and a half after their arrival, it’s already departure time for the children. “It goes by way too quickly. I would keep them longer,” says a resident while accompanying her young people towards the exit.

The elders tenderly watch the little ones put on their winter gear. One of them worries: “She’s not putting on her pants, she’s going to be cold…”

“Anaïs, stop talking, get dressed!” “, intervenes another, laughing. Anaïs smiles, then comes to join her to pluck a beak from the forehead.

“Happy new month, my dear. »

(My. Heart. That. Melts.)


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