Students create artwork to bring a smile to seniors

First-grade students, including Stephanie Kulak, front, display placemats.

Social distancing and isolation due to COVID-19 have had negative effects on the general mood of the community.

Without extended physical connection with family and friends, from school-age children who are learning at home to adults, especially the elderly living in nursing homes, many are experiencing loneliness.

The intergenerational Senior Buddy Placemats art project is an attempt to help kids and seniors feel connected to others during the pandemic.

“Art can bring joy and happiness to others,” said Bridget Geiger, art teacher at Pineapple Cove Classical Academy at West Melbourne.

About 120, 11-inch by 17-inch placemats were made by Pineapple Cove students and donated to two long-term care facilities — Anchor Care and Rehabilitation Center in Palm Bay and Melbourne Terrace and Rehabilitation Center in Melbourne.

At a meeting of the Community Services League of Brevard, concern was raised about the health and well-being of residents in long-term care facilities who were experiencing loneliness and depression due to COVID-19 isolation. The group noted: “Everybody is going through this. Seniors are lonely, and kids are lonely, too,” said Theresa Russell, from Department of Children and Families/Adult Protective Services and CSL’s Facilitator.

The Senior Buddy Placemat project was coordinated by Russell with the involvement of Suzanne Krasny, wife of another member of the CSL and a first-grade teacher at Pineapple Cove, and Geiger.

Geiger was ecstatic at the opportunity for her students to uphold one of Pineapple’s core values — service — in a tangible way. The school’s motto is, “Learn the true, do the good, and love the beautiful.” Eight classes of kindergartners and first-graders participated (some virtually) painted rainbow and flowers themed artwork.

“The scholars were very happy to create something special for the seniors in the elder care centers,” Geiger said. ”The little ones were so proud of their work. They knew their creative efforts would bring some joy and smiles to those who may need some extra cheer.”

Krasny coordinated the lamination and delivery of the placemats to Anchor Care and Melbourne Terrace. The facilities were very excited to receive the placemats and look forward to the smiles they will bring to their residents.

“Sharing a smile is always a wonderful thing to be a part of,” Russell said.

CSL of Brevard is made up of over 100 community providers and agencies who meet monthly to discuss community trends and to find ways to provide a solution.

“It takes all of us to do it. No one agency can do this. But, if we all take a piece, we get much better results for those in need,” Russell said.