Students bring joy to Tietz nursing & rehab center

The generation gap between some of Queens’ older and younger residents is being bridged through a partnership between the Margaret Tietz Nursing & Rehabilitation Center in Jamaica and P.S. 200.
Through two programs, “Melody Makers Intergenerational Chorus” and “Storytelling through the Generations,” students from P.S. 200, the Pomonok School located at 70-10 164th Street in Flushing and residents at Margaret Tietz interact with one another. The two groups combine to sing in the chorus, performing nostalgia songs. For “Storytelling through the Generations,” they share stories with one another about their lives.
“These are special kids,” said Linda Spiegel, the Director of Public Affairs at Margaret Tietz. “The residents so look forward to them being here. It brightens up their day.”
P.S. 200 music teacher Richard Vals led the chorus, which had some residents and 14 students in grades four and five. Teacher Linda Link oversaw the 12 students in seventh and eighth grade who were part of the storytelling group. The programs ran the entire course of the school year, with each group coming over one Wednesday during the month.
“I think they [the students] have become very, very attuned to the needs of the elderly,” Link said. “Their whole conception of growing old has changed. It was a real awakening for them.”
Maggie Thompson, a fifth grade student who participated in the chorus, said that the best part of the program was singing with the residents, getting to speak with them and learning a new perspective. She said that, while talking about problems, she got advice and courage from the residents.
Fourth grader Annie Schatz, also a member of the chorus, said she saw the residents grow happier when the students came and that she learned a lot about their lives. Michael Callahan, also a fourth grader and member of the Melody Makers, said that he was excited to take part in the program and that he learned the benefits of having residents talk with the students.
“I found it really interesting that we could talk to residents and find out about their past lives,” said seventh grader Anastasia Zolotova, who participated in the storytelling group. “It was really nice how we got to connect with the residents as well.”
Margaret Tietz Director of Therapeutic Recreation Isabelle Kellerman said that, during the course of the programs, she has seen the children become more outgoing and the residents become more verbal. She said that the whole thing has been wonderful to watch.
“I love them,” 70-year-old resident Cynthia Blair said of the students. “I enjoyed every moment of it.”
Gerald Hart, the Executive Director of Margaret Tietz, said that this year some great relationships have been formed between the students and residents. He also said that the students really cared about the residents and listened to them.
“We don’t ever see an end to it,” Hart said of the programs. “We want to make it grow more than anything else.”

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