The Morinville Free Press recently featured an article on our Intergenerational Headstart preschool program at Chateau Sturgeon Lodge in Legal.
Seniors lodge hosts Headstart Preschool program
by Grant Cree
“They’re a lot of fun to be around, you never know what to expect,” said Werner Sowinski, a resident of Chateau Sturgeon Lodge for seniors in Legal. “They are so much fun, they’re teaching me more than I’m teaching them.” Sowinski is one of approximately 30 residents in the lodge that hosts about a dozen Headstart preschool students.
“This is the first year of the program,” said Beverly Sagert, Early Childhood Director with Sturgeon Public School Division. She noted the new Intergenerational Preschool Program was launched last fall in Legal. “We used to be at the French Community Centre for the last three years, but there was no room for us this year,” explained Sagert.
Chateau Sturgeon Lodge offered the school division two rooms and a common area where the young students are encouraged to interact with seniors. “It’s been an ideal partner- ship since it started last September,” said Sagert. “Sturgeon School Division is the only school division that I know of that does such an integrated program.”
The innovative program runs Monday to Friday in the mornings, when teachers facilitate learning and fun activities for all to enjoy. “They do lot of things together, like crafts, music, outings and Zumba dancing. It’s a very collaborative group,” said Sagert.
The Headstart program is designed for children between the ages of two-and-a-half to six who require extra support. Chil- dren accepted into these pro- grams must be qualified through a screening process and meet the Alberta Special Education requirements for funding.
Prior to attending kindergarten in Morinville or Bon Accord, students enrolled in this unique program can access the services of specialists. They include teachers, a speech language therapist, an occupational therapist, a family support worker and an educational psychologist.
“The seniors were apprehensive at first because they thought maybe they’d have to look after them,” said Sagert. “But they’re very happy with the program. It makes them happy to see the kids laughing and interacting with them. The feedback has been awesome from the seniors and the parents as well.”
The children rotate between working with different seniors on a variety of arts and crafts projects. ”We’re making friend- ship bracelets this morning and it’s really fun,” said student Genevieve Ubeika. Another student, Jeremiah Potts, was busy sitting at a table with lodge residents Werner Sowinski Roy Brooks. “It’s fun because we get to do a lot of things like doing crafts with the seniors,” said Potts.