Does building connection with Seniors produce character in young people?

The Story and Start of GRANDPALS

Do school assemblies on character building and social consciousness really help young people? Is there a better way?

The original vision for GrandPals was that it be a character education initiative at our elementary school. About eight years ago, we had monthly assemblies focusing on character traits, celebrating students who had shown various traits, and providing a little education on what different character traits might look like, lived out  in everyday life. While the assemblies were certainly good for school climate and student confidence, we still needed a way to apply student learning in real ways in our local community. Thus, the GrandPals program was born.

During the first year, student simply visited the seniors in the local long-term care facility. Students engaged in conversation and played games with the seniors. As the years progressed however, and I returned with students to the seniors residence,  the program evolved and deepened.

Today, at Montgomery Village Public School, the GrandPals Project is a year-long undertaking for Grade 5 students – run by myself and my co teacher Lynda Brown. Student study their own family history and heritage in the first part of the project, then focus on documenting an extraordinary story from a life of one of our local seniors in the second part of the project. For the past two years, the finished book of stories has been of such high-quality that it has been archived at our local county museum. Both seniors and students have a great sense of satisfaction knowing that they are contributing to growing body of knowledge regarding our local and larger Canadian history.

After hearing Marc and Lynda’s story at their school, what are you imagining for your community or school?

How are you involving seniors in shaping your young people?

Marc Mailhot is a guest contributor and co-founder of

Visit his site to find out more and stay tuned for our LIVE FACEBOOK interview with him in the Spring of 2018.

Marc will be sharing LIVE on FACEBOOK with CHAT in the Spring of 2018.  Join us on social media.