Bridging The Gap Between Seniors and Students Using LEGO

On February 1st, 2013, our non-profit partner, Play-Well Outreach, ran an intergenerational program with residents of Tamalpais retirement home and a 4th grade class from Kentfield’s Bacich Elementary School.  The Larkspur Patch was there to do the story.   Here is the article.

Seniors and Students Build Wall and Relationships

Residents of The Tamalpais retirement community and students from Jennifer Sterling’s fourth grade class at Kentfield’s Bacich Elementary School used LEGOS® to build their own version of the Great Wall of China on January 30 during their regular visit arranged through LITA’s Bridging Generations program.  Led by guest Tim Bowen, Founder and President of Play-Well TEKnologies, the activity involved small groups of seniors and students building segments of the wall that were then all connected.  Bowen volunteered his time and brought the supplies to facilitate this activity.

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Tim Bowen, Founder and President of Play-Well TEKnologies helps Bacich 4th grader and The Tamalpais resident complete their final LEGO wall project Credit Jessie Nicely

“We are so glad that Tim approached us to conduct this engaging activity since it enabled the students to teach something new to the seniors,  most of whom had never played with LEGOS® before,” said Dena Selix, LITA’s Intergenerational Coordinator and a  credentialed teacher. “Our goal with Bridging Generations is to bring seniors and students together through meaningful lessons and activities that foster ongoing relationships throughout the school year. Ironically, by building a wall together today, the seniors and students built upon their relationships with each other.”

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Bacich fourth grader Ella Hyman shows longtime Bridging Generations participant Tamiko Flannery, a resident of The Tamalpais, how to build with LEGOS. Credit Dena Selix

In its fifth year, LITA’s Bridging Generations program matches elementary school students from schools around Marin to visit regularly with residents of long-term care facilities throughout the county.  This school year, there are a total of eight classes from schools around the county visiting nearby assisted living communities in their towns, including Greenbrae, Corte Madera, Mill Valley, San Rafael and Novato.

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The Tamalpais resident and longtime Bridging Generations participant, Marilyn Davis, helps fourth grader Jake Klompus build the base of their wall. Credit Dena Selix

Founded in 1975, LITA is a nonprofit organization that strives to improve the quality of life for residents of Marin’s skilled nursing, assisted living and board and care facilities by matching volunteers for regular visits.  The organization’s four other programs are One-to-One Friends, The Pet Connection, LITA Families, and Holiday Gifts for the Elderly.

Based in San Anselmo, Play-Well TEKnologies offers classes, workshops, and summer camps at over 200 public school, private school, home school, and summer camp sites. Its project-based programs are designed to teach principles and methods of engineering, to encourage students to work through design challenges using what they have learned, and to allow students to work at their optimal pace.

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Bacich Teacher Jennifer Sterling assists with her fourth graders’ wall built with The Tamalpais resident Edith Hana. Credit Dena Selix

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Myrna Pepper, resident of The Tamalpais and longtime Bridging Generations participant, works with her Bacich fourth grade buddies, Dexter Lama and Christopher Pontius, to complete their parapet. Credit Dena Selix

The entire article can be found here.

Kids Rebuilding Their City with LEGO After Hurricane Sandy!

Through our non-profit organization, Play-Well Outreach, we were lucky enough to work with children in March 2013, at Belle Harbor School in Rockaway, NY.  Many of the families there had been displaced by Hurricane Sandy.  The 55 kids, in attendance, helped rebuild part of Rockaway, in their own way, using LEGO.

Kids rebuilding their city out of LEGO.

Kids rebuilding their city out of LEGO.

We talked about the importance of the community, our engineers, construction workers, our leaders, and even how kids can help with the relief effort.  Parents even joined in on the fun once we got started. We split the engineers into 3 groups, and kids chose what part of the Rockaway they wanted to build.  It was rewarding to see the kids learning the importance of teamwork and being united, just as their families and community have learned during this time of need.

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At the end of the day, all the kids combined their sections of the city to rebuild Rockaway, NY.

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The  families, who in some cases are still homeless, carried a level of resilience that is inspiring.  Long after the storm, there are many families still working to rebuild their homes in Rockaway, and this gave the kids an opportunity to also contribute.  If you’d like to help support the work being done to rebuild in Rockaway and surrounding communities after Hurricane Sandy, you can donate to these organizations:

Rockaway Help


Here is a video of the devastation that hit Rockaway: