‘Kids of today care:’ Orlando elementary students make Valentine’s Day cards for seniors

Waterford Elementary School students wrote to Palm Garden of Orlando Heath and Rehabilitation Center residents

ORLANDO, Fla. – Students at Waterford Elementary School in Orlando are making sure senior citizens in their neighborhood feel a little extra love this Valentine’s Day.

Second graders created special cards and messages for residents at Palm Garden of Orlando Heath and Rehabilitation Center.

Teacher Heather Segers told News 6 this is part of their social-emotional learning curriculum.

“So every week we have a different emotion we discuss, why we feel the way we do,” Segers said. “So teaching them that their emotions are OK and to understand why they feel the way they do is so important, especially nowadays. And once they understand and know their emotions are OK to feel that way, it makes them feel better about themselves.”

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The younger students worked with their fifth grade peer mentors to write the messages.

“The older students come in and they really teach them strategies they have not learned yet—reading strategies, writing strategies,” Segers said.

Reagan Rivard, the communications and events coordinator for the Waterford Lakes Community Association, said during COVID, her team began working to find ways to ensure retirement home residents feel less isolated.

These Valentine’s Day messages are part of that continuing mission and Rivard was there to collect the cards at Waterford Elementary School.

“It feels very rewarding and exciting. It’s a very humble feeling just to know that you’re the one that created this and your team made this happen,” Rivard said.

As residents at Palm Garden gathered to read the messages, Luke Neumann, senior vice president of service and communications, said the benefit of this intergenerational service goes both ways.

“It let our seniors know that kids of today care. And number two, it helps the kids of today learn service and in turn, they learn living history from folks who have lived it,” Neumann said. “The kids are hungry for that. They want to know the living history from the folks who live here. To see the reaction, to know that kids would take the time to write personal notes and Valentines to them, just meant the world. It gives you goosebumps and makes you tear up a little bit.”

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About the Author:

Julie Broughton's career in Central Florida has spanned more than 14 years, starting with News 6 as a meteorologist and now anchoring newscasts.