Canton-Galva High School students are working with a North Newton retirement community to create learning opportunities and lasting relationships.

Canton-Galva High School students are working with a North Newton retirement community to create learning opportunities and lasting relationships. About 50 students involved in Future Business Leaders of America have built a bridge with Kidron Bethel Village, a facility with about 300 residents. The two-fold endeavor will allow students to shadow jobs in a number of departments while also developing friendships with its elderly residents. The first coordinated event was the Senior Olympics Sept. 21. Students were divided and put in charge of various games, including bowling, bean bag toss, spelling bee and basketball. About 100 Kidron residents participated in the day’s activities, which also was the same day as Canton-Galva's homecoming. Sophomore Ryan Grant, an FBLA member, said he was apprehensive about the day at first. But once he begun helping with the javelin — foam spikes thrown through a ring — and interacting with the residents, he quickly changed his mind. “It was really fun,” he said. “Once we started doing all of the stuff it was real inspirational. Seeing them being able to do some of the stuff they did, they loved being there and being able to do stuff like that again. It was a great opportunity for us to be there. I would definitely do it again.” Beth Penner, activities director at Kidron, said she has heard how much families and residents enjoyed the day’s activities. “You bring a busload of energetic high school students to a nursing home, it brings energy,” she said. “The whole place felt it.” The students will continue to build relationships with the Kidron residents through an adopt-a-grandparent initiative. Students will be matched with residents by common interests, and there are tentative plans to organize events for the upcoming holidays. In the meantime, the students also will be learning from Kidron’s staff. Students will choose from seven departments and shadow workers in those areas, such as nursing, finance and dietary. Groups will be divided and visit the home in half-day sessions. “It lets them know what’s out there and what different degrees have in store for them,” said Penner, who added some might sharpen their focus after the experience. “It’s real-life experience in a facility that has so much to offer for career opportunities.” Junior Lindsey Unruh, FBLA editor, said the shadowing will help her peers look for potential jobs. “I’m really excited because it will give me a chance to see the real world in action and see if that’s something I’ll be interested in doing in the future,” she said. Canton-Galva’s FBLA has partnered with businesses in previous years, but this is the first time the school has organized job shadowing in this way. “Being from such a small community, (the students) are not going to be around some of these jobs,” Brenda Vogts, FBLA sponsor, said. “This will give them a chance to see what goes into a nursing home, what it takes to make it run.” Vogts said she also hopes it will take away some of the stigma young people might feel toward retirement homes. Her ultimate goal is to take a presentation of the projects to national competition. If placed in the top two entries at state, their submission will advance to nationals. “This could give lots of kids lots of opportunities,” Vogts said. “I want them to feel it’s worthwhile.”