Galloway Ridge Residents Connect With Local Preschoolers

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Primrose School of Chapel Hill at Briar Chapel students create meaningful relationships with older adults through Adopt-a-Grandparent program

Boy holding up his artwork with a Galloway Ridge resident
Connor Allen shares his artwork with Marie Barbieri.

By Elizabeth Kane | Photography by John Michael Simpson

Ten 4- to 6-year-old students hopped off their bus from the Primrose School of Chapel Hill at Briar Chapel in April to brighten the day of a few residents at Galloway Ridge at Fearrington as part of the Adopt-a-Grandparent program.

It was the first time since the pandemic shutdown in March 2020 that adopted grandmothers Nancy White, Fran Spaeder, Marie Barbieri, Phebe Johnson, Marge Snelling and Barb Gordon welcomed the young children into a community room to play games, make crafts and enjoy story time together.

For the majority of this school year, students from one elementary, one kindergarten and two pre-K classes crafted greetings, posters and drawings for their “grandmothers,” according to Janice Greiner, curriculum coordinator at Primrose.

Students making drawings at Galloway Ridge
A group of preschoolers from the Primrose School of Chapel Hill at Briar Chapel make drawings for their “adopted grandmothers” at Galloway Ridge at Fearrington.

“We had the children make cards,” Janice says. “And we did that a couple of times, where we just dropped off [around] 40 or 50 cards that the children had made, and they were distributed as needed in the facilities [to] whoever needed a card that day.”

Primrose School of Chapel Hill co-owner Melissa Mart says its Adopt-a-Grandparent program with Galloway Ridge began in 2019. The school and the resident facility is just about 2 1⁄2 miles apart along 15-501. “This program creates opportunities for young children and [older adults] to develop respectful, positive relationships through engaging interactive experiences,” Melissa says.

“The program provides children the chance to be of service, feel needed, develop sensitivity and respect the needs of others. For the [adopted] grandparent, the program offers an opportunity to share talents, knowledge and friendship with the children.”

Then, COVID-19 hit.

Primrose students and Galloway Ridge residents
Front row: Ian Wierzbicki, Emma Porrua, Liam White and Grace Mounce. Back row: Nancy White, Oliver Bailey, Phebe Johnson, Marilyn Fox, Marge Snelling, Elena Farrell, Charlotte Johnson, Barb Gordon, Grace Mabry and Connor Allen.

“Since the pandemic, we [were] unable to visit in person, and the program shifted a bit to enable more one-on-one experiences,” Melissa says.

The school worked with Breanna Walker, the lead resident enrichment coordinator at Galloway Ridge, to figure out a new plan. Breanna says she’s seen how the children add fulfillment to the lives of the people at Galloway Ridge. “It really gives back to the residents here,” Breanna says. “I think that our community should really take into consideration what these little kids are doing for our older population, and maybe take a page out of their playbook.

“I think it’s a great opportunity for children to give back to their community,” she adds. “I have a 4-year- old myself, and I always try to encourage giving out as much love and kindness as possible. I think that this program is the embodiment of that.”

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