Students Read to Nursing Homes, Fire Stations

Students Read to Nursing Home Residents, Firefighters
Posted on 04/30/2020
This is the image for the news article titled Students Read to Nursing Home Residents, Firefighters

Reading aloud over zoomStaying at home hasn’t stopped the students in Amy Weisbrot’s class from forging new friendships with members of the community.

Once or twice a week, her students hop on Zoom to read aloud to nursing home residents and firefighters. Those calls are full of conversation, games, virtual fist bumps, and lots and lots of laughs. The program is quickly growing to include even more students and community members.

It all started when Woodland teacher Amy Weisbrot wanted to do something meaningful to spread positivity for her grandma and others living in senior care facilities who were feeling especially lonely and isolated due to stay at home restrictions. She reached out to several facilities and they were quickly on board with the idea.

“The Zoom sessions with my students and the elderly were a big hit on both ends,” said Weisbrot. “My students loved it, as well as the residents, which then led to the idea of doing this with firefighters since they are having to spend many hours and days at a time away from their families.” 

Currently, five of Weisbrot’s students are participating, and based on the popularity of the program with senior citizens and firefighters, other teachers and students will be joining in soon.

The voluntary, ongoing project has each of Weisbrot’s students connecting with either firefighters and/or elderly in nursing homes via Zoom at least once or twice a week. “It has been so awesome seeing the relationships being built between them,” said Weisbrot.

The Zoom sessions usually start with some "get to know you" types of questions that the students come up with on their own, then a read-aloud from the student, followed up by an interactive math game or an epic spelling game of hangman. Other times, nursing home residents sing and recite poetry to the students. One Zoom call even included a VIP backstage tour of the fire station.

"It's an awesome experience and a fun change of pace to break up a more serious day from what's all going on right now,” said Loveland/Symmes Township firefighter Steve Money.

Activity Coordinator Amy Snow from the Meadowbrook Care Center added, “It always brightens my day to see our residents' faces light up when they talk to a child. They truly enjoy spending time and talking with the younger generation. The intergenerational bond is something special.”

Nursing home residents agree. “I loved being there with the students, and I hope that they ask me to do it again with them,” said Rita (Weisbrot’s grandmother).

And Evelyn, who is 101 years young said, “My greatest joy is to be with children.”

Nursing home resident Wayne loves reading with the kids. As a former teacher, he enjoys helping students develop their reading skills.

The students are enjoying the program as much as anyone. "We have had fun talking to the firefighter and the people at the nursing homes. We learned stuff from each person that we talk to,” said Kailey and Taylor.

"I loved making the firefighter smile and getting a tour of the fire station,” said Woodland student Trent. “It made me feel happy reading to them, and I want to keep reading to them.”

Eli also enjoys reading books to others over Zoom. Superintendent Matthew Miller recently joined in on one of Eli’s Zoom sessions, and it was the highlight of both of their days.

“I think the best part of the whole program,” said Weisbrot, “is seeing everyone’s faces light up when the Zoom meeting starts.”