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PQ Kindergartners Bring Spring to Salem Hills

NORTH SALEM, N.Y. — Long-care residents of Salem Hills Rehabilitation & Healthcare got a delightful treat when two Pequenakonck School kindergarten classes took turns dropping in to say hello.

As instructed by their paraprofessional teachers, Britt Togonon , Lisa Finer and Claudia Badia , each child found an elderly partner and presented a handmade vase of faux flowers, concocted in class from empty plastic bottles and cardboard egg cartons.

Together with their partners, whose ages range from 62 to 104, the children read a story, did a little crayon coloring, planted zinnia seeds in small containers and created planter markers.

“This is a great way to get the generations to come together," activities supervisor Barbara Winters said, looking out over the large room. "These folks don’t get out of the facility much, so it’s nice for outside entertainment to come in and break up their day. It really warms your heart.”

The visits to the Purdys facility are a project of the One Cub Kindergarten Initiative , a program that emphasizes kindness and community service. The children’s visits had been scheduled for the end of October but were postponed because everyone was snowed in.

“We’re testing the waters this year," Finer said. "Next year we may bring all the kindergarten classes.”

Each visit concluded with a choral presentation by the young voices. First they sang “The Kindergarten Song,” written by Togonon.

“We are the kindergarten of PQ! You’re a friend to me, I’m a friend to you …”

This was followed by John Farrell’s “It’s the Little Things,” a song that incorporates sign language. The recital ended with a youthful rendition of “You’re a Grand Old Flag,” supported by a number of older voices from the audience.

Back at PQ, the children set their zinnias in a sunny spot and waited for results. “They’re already beginning to sprout,” said Togonon.

“This is all about kindness and making new friends,” she added. “You’re never too young.”

And you’re never too old.

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