Students Create Life Storybooks For Essentia Health Living Residents
Vivian Nord is 101 years old, and you wouldn’t know that just by looking at her. She’s as sharp as a tack, full of life and enjoys getting pampered at the salon. Nord is sitting on the bench donated by her family in her honor.
“Looking forward to that book they’ve put up for us that would be fun,” said Essentia Health Living Center resident Vivian Nord. “Also it’s just we learned so much through this and the girls from the high school have been great.”
Age is nothing but a number and friendships are formed no matter the age gap. Fosston High School sophomores developed life storybooks that will last a lifetime for residents at the Essentia Health Living Center.
“It would involve the students making regular visits out to Essentia and visiting with the residents and interviewing them and then it would be the students building these narratives and then eventually a life storybook,” said Mary Hanson, Fosston High School English teacher.
Memory Boy written by Will Weaver inspired the project, the book focuses on the relationship between a high school boy and an elderly gentleman. Weaver spent time with the students earlier in the day.
Fifty-five students produced 24 books. The creativity was left up to the teams and they worked on the books from October until Thanksgiving. No book was identical, full of pictures, high school diplomas and anything else of significance.
“So this is an example of one of our life storybooks designed by two sophomore girls,” said Hanson.
There were some challenges in the beginning but the adult volunteers were always present to make everything run smoothly. Many of the residents are in their 80s or 90s and are hard of hearing.
“Help them to speak slower, speak louder; a few of the residents were vision impaired and so the adult volunteers helped out with that as well,” said Essentia Health Living Center Volunteer Services Coordinator Joan Dufault.
Families and friends packed the Essentia activity room for the big reveal each resident enjoying the moment and going down memory lane. Students also enjoyed hearing about things they learn in history.
“We take a lot of things for granted like they didn’t have as much money and it was just harder to get a lot more things than it is now,” said Fosston High School student Justin Juve.
“He told us about his time in the war and he had a lot of stories about overseas and like Korea and all that stuff and that was what I thought was the best,” said Fosston High School student Reed Dickens.
Even when one of the residents passed away during the course of the project, students completed the book and attended the funeral. This was more than just an assignment these newfound friendships will stand the test of time.