Social and Emotional Wellness Classes Make Trips to Sweetwood (Interview)

Students make holiday ornaments with friends from Sweetwood.

Photo courtesy of Mt. Greylock school website

Students make holiday ornaments with friends from Sweetwood.

Ava Simon, Staff Writer

Sweetwood is a facility that houses senior citizens in a community type fashion. Students from Greylock had the opportunity to make some visits for a service project for the Social and Emotional Wellness class taught by Coach Jordan. The Echo reached out to one of the students, Taylor Callahan, to learn more about the experience.

Echo: What did you do during your trips?

Callahan: The first two trips consisted of Shaelyn and I meeting our new friend, Richard Mahler. The first activity Richard, Shaelyn, and I did together was engaging in conversation. Richard talked all about his profession. Richard has dementia so he still believes he is an acting endocrinologist. Due to his mental state, he mostly enjoys talking about his profession; including research, appointments, and the satisfaction of the job.

E: Why did your class go on the trip?

C: We originally went to Sweetwood for a community service project, but the visits turned into much more. After a visit or two, the students in my class really started bonding with the elderly. I noticed that most people were actually excited to go visit with their elderly friend.”

E: How does your trip tie into what you’re learning?

C: “In Social Emotional Wellness, we are learning about gratefulness. This concept ties into our trips to Sweetwood because we are learning how to be more grateful for the elderly. Students are getting to know interesting people with a bunch of life stories. A sense of gratefulness comes with these fascinating stories.

E: What did you learn/hear from the people you met?

C: Shaelyn and I have the same person, Richard Mahler. Richard still believes he is an active doctor so he really enjoys talking about his job. During our first interaction, Richard expressed his love for life and the people around him. He constantly said, ‘This is all so great.’ I learned that some people really never lose their positive outlook on life, even with such a life-changing disease.

E: Did this experience change your perception about elderly people?

C: No. I have always had an appreciation for the elderly because of my great grandfather that I visit. I believe every senior citizen should have a happy life and be able to do whatever they put their mind to, even at such an old age.

E: How did the senior citizens react to your presence and the things you said?

C: Richard, in particular, was quite grateful for Shaelyn and me to be visiting him. At one point in time, Richard even began crying because he was so happy. When we talked about our lives, he seemed to be excited to hear some new stories and facts, since he is ‘always learning.’

E: Did they seem happy?

C: Based on what I have seen in Sweetwood, they seem so happy to see us. Whenever we arrive, they all greet us with a huge smile as we walk towards them. When we leave, some of them often ask when we are coming back and tell us how excited they are for us to return.

E: Overall, how did the trips affect you?

C: Overall, this trip had a huge effect on me. Not only did I experience a new sense of satisfaction when they were enjoying themselves, I also loved meeting so many new people. I will be continuing these trips into next semester.