High school students and seniors stand together, shoulder to shoulder, their voices filling the hall with song. Over 90 people sit watching, many of them friends or family, all eager to see their loved ones shine.
“I loved it!” said Doug, a resident at Trillium Retirement Residence. “I enjoyed the talent, and loved being able to sing in a choir atmosphere again. I also enjoyed the time that was spent with the students, as it brought back a lot of musical memories.”
Doug and 10 other residents at Trillium Retirement and Care Community in Kingston were part of a program at Holy Cross Catholic Secondary School that pairs seniors and students together for an 11-week choir experience. The program was developed three years ago by Naomi, who is now a grade 12 student at the school, and is supported by the Kingston Alzheimer’s Society.
The songs the choir sings aren’t new, but they’re powerful.
“My favourite song was Danny Boy,” said Vera, a resident at Trillium. “I have a lot of memories of past times associated with Danny Boy. It has a lot of meaning for me.”
On the bus rides over to the school, residents were always in high spirits, according to Mallory Paige, lifestyle consultant at Trillium. “They were singing and laughing and it was always a very happy atmosphere on the way to choir.”
During the choir, Trillium residents were joined by residents from two other senior living communities, as well as local seniors, all of whom were sponsored by the Kingston Alzheimer’s Society. They would meet at the high school every Wednesday for an hour and a half, studiously preparing for the concert.
“[You could] feel the love and positive vibes as soon as you walked into the music room,” Vera said. “I would do it again in a heartbeat.”
The concert itself was very professional, according to Mallory. A pianist and guitar player accompanied the singers, who were arranged in tiered rows on a stage.
“The residents were so happy, just smiling ear to ear,” Mallory said. “They made friends there as well, so they were chatting after, and one of our residents actually got up and gave a thank you speech for having them and inviting them to this program. It was quite touching.”
Mallory said she is hoping there will be an opportunity for them to participate again next year. She’s done quite a few intergenerational programs, and everyone always has a good time.
“I think my favourite part of the concert was really just feeling their pride and their happiness, knowing that they’d given their 11 weeks, and they had put their heart and soul into it and just felt so achieved,” Mallory said. “I would for sure do it again.”