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New SHARP Literacy program inspires intergenerational friendships

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88Nine Radio Milwaukee
SHARP Literacy Intergenerational Read to Me Program

Making friends isn’t always easy, and making a friend from another generation? Now that’s even harder.

But thanks to a unique new program, SHARP Literacy is helping bridge the gap through one timeless interest: reading.

Fifth grade students from Victory School ready to seniors at Chai Point Senior Living.Makenzie Boettcher | 88Nine Radio Milwaukee

Fifth grade students from Victory School ready to seniors at Chai Point Senior Living.

“The seniors will come up to me afterwards and say, ‘Wow. This makes me feel young again! This is really an experience money can’t buy,'” ¬†explains Julie Shlensky, Intergenerational Program Coordinator at the Chai Point Senior Living Center, who for the past few weeks now have been welcoming fifth grade visitors into their East Side home,¬†“the seniors feel special, too, because they’re helping the kids read, which is a skill they’ll need all their life.”

SHARP Literacy’s Read to Me Intergenerational Program kicked off the end of March and pairs together children and seniors from the community for an hour of reading, writing and interaction. And best of all? It benefits both groups both intellectually as well as personally,

5th grader from Victory School, Delilah, draws a picture for the seniors before her visit.Makenzie Boettcher | 88Nine Radio Milwaukee

5th grader from Victory School, Delilah, draws a picture for the seniors before her visit.

“It’s just a great opportunity for the students to interact with the seniors,” explained Lynda Kohler, President of SHARP Literacy, “it helps them build esteem and confidence… and by the students reading to the seniors they don’t have to feel like they will fail. The seniors are always smiling, nodding and just really love the opportunity to interact with the young kids.”

Chai Point resident, Karen Cramer, reads with fifth grader. Makenzie Boettcher | 88Nine Radio Milwaukee

Chai Point resident, Karen Cramer, reads with fifth grader.

In partnership with the Jewish Home, Sarah Chudnow Community and Chai Point Senior Living Center, from now until June, SHARP will bring together seniors and young children from Victory School and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. School,

“It just helps inspire confidence in our kids. This is another way to instill that confidence.”

Listen to my interview with Karen Cramer, a senior at Chai Point, and hear her perspective of the program below:

SHARP Literacy’s Read to Me Intergenerational Program runs now until June 8th and is sponsored by the Gene and Ruth Posner Foundation. For more on the program as well as SHARP Literacy, click here.