Discover How Having a Child Pen Pal Can Make an Elderly Person Smile

Discover How Having a Child Pen Pal Can Make an Elderly Person Smile

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At first glance, a child and an elderly person appear to have nothing in common. One is growing up in a technology-rich world that provides information and entertainment at the touch of a button. The other endured the trials and tribulations of childhood without a single technological device. Even so, this does not mean there is not a common ground that can bring these two groups of people together for an activity that produces laughter and smiles on both sides. A pen pal program can do just that and so much more.


The Benefits of a Pen Pal Program

Think back for a moment to a time when people still sent letters through the mail. Forget the electronic stuff that most people send today, but remember the feeling of a handwritten letter that someone sent directly to you. Fond memories begin to form of holding an envelope in your hand, studying the handwritten address information carefully as if it may provide a clue as to what the message contained inside. After a few moments, the excitement became unbearable and you soon tore open the envelope to reveal the contents inside. It is an age-old lifestyle practice that few people engage in these days.

Participation in a pen pal program can change this fact of life. You can once again feel the joy and delight that comes from receiving a handwritten letter in the mail. At this stage in your life, family members may not come around as often as before, and the lines of communication may be slowing down. Joining a pen pal program works to reestablish your connection with the outside world. You will receive a child pen pal partner and can begin exchanging thoughts, ideas and memories with that person.


The Benefits of Being a Pen Pal

You will not be the only one receiving benefits from participating in a pen pal program, but the child who matches up with you will have a positive experience as well. Many children cannot experience the joys of having a grandparent in their life. Both sets of grandparents may no longer be on this earth, or other unfortunate curcimstances may be preventing a grandparent from actively being part of a child’s life.

You can fill this role for a child by serving as a surrogate grandparent who provides love and excitement about the things taking place in a child’s world. It is an opportunity for you to share wisdom and other trinkets of knowledge with a child, just as you would with a biological grandchild. Share your enthusiasm for the letter writing process and how it is more fun than staying glued to a video game all day. Each letter provides you with an opportunity to tell a story, share a piece of history and make a connection that is sure to bring a smile to your face and the face of your pen pal child partner.


How to Start a Program

It is fairly easy for your Sunshine Retirement Facility to start a pen pal program for you and the other residents of the community. An excellent starting point for the creation of a pen pal program is a nearby school. Almost any school would be eager to have their students participate in such a program. In addition to forming a meaningful relationship with you, a program like this gives a student the opportunity to develop writing and communication skills. As that student moves through life, these skills are invaluable.

Getting the program off the ground will require volunteers from your retirement community and the school. Work with the individuals at your center to create introduction letters that can go to each student who wishes to participate in the pen pal program. The school can work on the same task. When both sides have a set of introductory letters complete, make arrangements to hold a pen pal introduction event at your center.

During the event, have a leader share topics of interest that would make great content for future letters. Include ideas such as sharing hobbies, interesting memories, and interests as a starting point for writing the first few letters. By that point, you and your child pen pal should have an understanding of one another and you can write about other topics of interest the two of you share.

Handwritten letters have a way of putting a smile on the face of a child and on your face as well. Taking part in a pen pal program will create a connection with a child that makes lasting memories for both of you and adds a touch of excitement to your day once again.

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*This blog was first published here: Sunshine Retirement Living

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