Bottle caps and bingo cards helped make a Valentine's Day celebration ring with laughter on Tuesday afternoon at the Alta Wel-Life center, as fourth grade students helped the residents of the assisted living facility celebrate the day with homemade valentines, games of bingo and plenty of talk back and forth between the participants.
The Valentine's party was the latest in a long line of interactive endeavors between the Wel-Life residents and the fourth-grade students, who enjoy each other's company every Tuesday afternoon courtesy of the Partners in Excellence program.
The Alta P.I.E. program attempts to partner various businesses and organizations in the community, such as the Buena Vista County Conservation Board and Wel-Life, with different classrooms at the Alta Elementary School, and Wendy Nelson, program director at Wel-Life, said the Partners in Excellence program has made a positive impact on both the residents and the students.
"It's really been a wonderful program, and I'm glad to see that everyone's been enjoying themselves with this," Nelson said. "This is really just a great way to bridge the generation gap. It's fun for the residents to have the students come and be with them, and I think the kids really enjoy it a lot too."
Students arrived at the facility around 1:30 on Tuesday, and were met by residents in the center's dining hall, where the two groups sat and talked before bingo cards and plastic bottle caps were handed out to begin the afternoon's main activity.
Each student and resident had their own bingo card, but helped each other locate numbers on their playing piece as the different bingo balls were selected by members of the staff at Wel-Life, and Nelson said that teamwork and camaraderie has been one of the biggest payoffs of the P.I.E. programs.
"The students and the residents have really enjoyed working together and helping each other out, and I think that's been something that's really been a positive for everyone," Nelson said. "It's nice to see that cooperation and understanding between all of them."
The Valentine's Day celebration will not be the last for the P.I.E. participants, as Nelson said they would also engage in activities outside of the Wel-Life facility once the weather begins to warm up in the springtime.