Kids, seniors share passion for animals

Aug 13, 2019

Kids and adults learned from animals, and from each other, at a special intergenerational summer program. 

Seniors from Project Independence joined kids enrolled in the Humane Society and Shelter South Coast’s Shelter Buddies Kids Club summer program for a hands-on lesson in sea animals. 

Lloyd Center intern Olivia Aguiar brought in nearly a dozen sea creatures for the group to see and hold, including mussels, quahogs, oysters, periwinkles, and crabs. Participants held the critters, and learned about their habitats -- and human and natural threats to their lives. 

“Everyone was really into it,” Aguiar said. “Everyone loves to learn about things they don’t see every day.” 

While kids and seniors alike marveled at the animals, Aguiar led a discussion focused on saltwater habitats, and the threats climate change pose to aquatic life. 

It is the second time seniors from the New Bedford-based adult day health center have joined kids for animal-themed education programming. The seniors joined kids at a Shelter Buddies program last year when the program was first launched. 

“It’s just so cool seeing the seniors get out and spend time with the kids,” said Shelter Director Melinda Ventura. “It’s such a nice partnership.” 

Project Independence Executive Director Karen Maciulewicz agreed.

“It’s a nice exposure for the kids, seniors, and adults with disabilities to be around the younger folks and see their energy, their spirit, their joy, and their laughter,” Maciulewicz said. “Oftentimes as folks age, they have medical conditions and situations arise in life and they can lose some of that.” 

Maciulewicz noted the particular program focused on sea creatures helped the seniors from Project Independence connect with the ocean and the beach, locations they might not be able to enjoy as often as they’d like to. 

“When the animals come around they come out of their shell, show more joy, and connect,” Maciulewicz said. “The animals really help to heal.”