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Seniors Share Their Story with Local 7th-Graders

In April, Alden Estates of Naperville hosted the annual "This is Your Life" presentation with 7th graders from St. Elizabeth Seton Catholic Church in Naperville.

The intergenerational program began in 2008, when an Alden Estates of Naperville Advisory Board Member presented the idea for This is Your Life to Sheila Stevenson, director of Junior High Religious Education at St. Elizabeth Seton. Since then, 7th graders enrolled in the parish's religious education program are matched with residents each year.

Planting in Palatine 7th graders from St. Elizabeth Seton Catholic Church in Naperville present June Bodinet, middle, with her 'This is Your Life' story board presentation.

The students visit and interview residents to learn about their childhoods, family histories and life experiences. After the visits, they and their religion teachers work on posters and memory books with pictures describing each resident's life.

"This is a wonderful program. The teens from St. Elizabeth Seton learn so much by interviewing and spending time with residents to tell their stories," said Clara Leonard, administrator, Alden Estates of Naperville. "Every resident feels so important and special to have the children and community interested in learning more about their life experiences."

Family members of residents and students are invited to the presentations during which residents learn about each other's life stories. One family had four generations present to show their support. Resident stories from this year include memories of serving in the military, riding in a streetcar and a paratrooper who got caught in a tree by his parachute.

Teens read a letter from President Barack Obama to resident Louise Streadain congratulating her on her 100th birthday last year, and resident Bess Robinson was presented with a birthday cake while everyone sang happy birthday.

"This event builds community not only between the teens and residents, but among the residents themselves. They learned details about each other's lives that they didn't know before," said Stevenson.


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