Mixed age class brings seniors, kids together

Kent County

GRANDVILLE, Mich. (WOOD) — Whether or not you have the voice of a nightingale or are able to move your feet, music is on the menu every Tuesday morning at Brookcrest Rehab & Life Center in Grandville.

That’s the day a group of kids visit the retirement community to not only bring music to the residents, but also to make music with them.

“They get transformed to a different place. Compared to going to other things, this allows them just to be free,” Abe Cohen, the director of recreational therapy at Brookcrest, said.

It’s called the Mixed Age Generations class, run through a music studio in Grand Rapids’ East Hills neighborhood called Joyful Sounds.

“Did you feel the life? There’s just good life happening in here,” Michele Venegas, owner and director of Joyful Sounds, said of this week’s class. “So often in our culture here in America, we put our elders off to the side. And here we bring them to the forefront.”

Brookcrest resident Carole Anne Restaino says it’s the highlight of her week.

“I just want to take the kids and just scoop them up  I love them so much,” Restaino said.

The feeling is mutual for little Jos Sterken.

“Every time I go to the place, I meet up with them and then I’m friends with them,” Jos said.

That’s probably why the seniors are endearingly referred to as “grandfriends.”

“It’s pure emotion, pure heart, pure love,” Cohen said.

The class incorporates legacy songs like “You Are My Sunshine.” Venegas said songs from the participants’ childhoods evoke memories and emotional connections

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