The senior class has organized a project, Seniors for Seniors, that will link UNC students and local children with area nursing homes. Involved nursing homes include the Shepherd House, Alterra Clare Bridge of Chapel Hill and the Chapel Hill Rehabilitation and Healthcare Center.
Senior Class President Ben Singer said the ultimate goal of the program is to do something positive for senior citizens in the community.
Singer said he hopes to get as many seniors as possible involved in the project because it is a good opportunity to let senior citizens interact with younger people in the community.
"It's a chance to connect with these people," Singer said. "There is a lot to be learned from older people."
Singer said Big Buddy, a youth mentoring program run through the Campus Y, has already partnered up with the senior class for the project. He said the senior class also plans to get other student groups involved.
"We want to challenge organizations on campus to visit the living homes," Singer said. "We hope to get as many organizations (involved) as possible."
Singer said he considers visiting nursing homes to be a civic responsibility. He said it was important for the senior class to be proactive in bettering the lives of senior citizens.
"It was important for us to go to them," Singer said. "It's hard for (senior citizens) to go out and go to other places."
Service Committee Senior Marshal Emily Lemons said Big Buddy is also an important part of the project. Lemons said the residents of nursing homes enjoy seeing children, but they rarely get to do so.
Lemons said no other student organizations besides Big Buddy are involved in the project yet. She said the senior class plans to attend meetings of student organizations to advertise the project. Senior class officials also hope to get other students on campus involved as well, Lemons said.
"I would like to reach students who aren't involved to give them something to contribute to," Lemons said.
Lemons said this is the first year the senior class has participated in the project, which will last through the spring 2002 semester. She said the senior class also hopes to get underclassmen involved in the planning process.
Scarlett McKnight, the life enrichment coordinator at Alterra Clare Bridge, said the residents enjoy student visits.
"We're looking forward to participating in their activities," McKnight said.
"The residents get a lot out of working with young people."
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