Recently, residents of The Selfhelp Home and the entire fifth-grade class at Bernard Zell Anshe Emet Day School (BZAEDS) gathered in a special ceremony dedicated to peace and conflict resolution. The gathering commemorated the end of a yearlong intergenerational project with the residents at Selfhelp and fifth-grade students at the school. This year marks the third year the fifth-grade students at BZAEDS have formed this special relationship
with the residents of The Selfhelp Home.
During the year, students and residents met several times and discussed peace and conflict resolution. The subject was especially relevant to this particular group of elders, some of whom are Holocaust survivors, making the experience that much more personal and important.
"The project is always very meaningful to our fifth-grade students," said Barbara Applebaum, fifth-grade team leader, and leader of the project from BZAEDS. "It allows these two groups to enrich one another and it has been incredible watching them grow from this experience and learn from each other."
"This program always brings out the best in the students and the residents as we work towards a common goal," said Fern Shaffer, director of Programing
The program was facilitated by Fabiana Glazer, founder of GoldMind Arts, who met with students at The Selfhelp Home throughout the year. The goal was to create a work of art through meaningful discussions about conflict resolution. "We brought these two generations together and put them to work towards a meaningful work of art that facilitated conversation-and in the end we have a piece of art we can all feel proud of," Glazer said.
Together, residents and students produced two quilts, one that will be displayed at BZAEDS for the community, and one in The Selfhelp Home. Residents and students wrote special messages about resolving conflict and secured it inside fabric leafs that were sewn to branches of a tree at the center of the quilt. Around the edge of the quilt, a small silhouette of each resident and student is attached, symbolizing that we all need to work together to resolve conflict.
"Working together and sewing the quilt with the students gave us an opportunity to have meaningful and constructive conversations with the kids; the children are just so full of life," said Dorothy Urman, resident of The Selfhelp Home.
Through conversations about peace and how to obtain it, the group also composed a poem symbolizing their thoughts on conflict resolution. The workshops between students and residents concentrated on what has worked, what one can do in a conflict as well as how to avoid conflict altogether.
~ By BZAEDS fifth grade students & residents of The Selfhelp Home
Food, Power, Land,
Abuse, Hate and Greed.
Some of us got out
and started screaming.
Some don't realize,
she lost her son.
Most people were hungry.
Because he was scared
She tries to think by listening.
We take turns and
I stood up for myself.
When you have a chance
Kindly, combine forces
Knuckle sandwich vs.
Don't show a reaction.
Put yourself in their shoes.
Able to leave,
I know I did the right thing….
The Selfhelp Home in Chicago provides older adults quality of care in a culturally rich Jewish environment. Founded in 1938 as a refuge for Holocaust survivors, today Selfhelp offers a continuum of services from residential living to skilled nursing.
For more information about Bernard Zell Anshe Emet Day School, visit www.bzaeds.org or call Erica Mutschler at (773) 572-1261. Efrat Stein is the outreach and marketing manager for The Selfhelp Home in Chicago.