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Intergenerational art class about more than art

Every other month, the young and the young at heart come together within the community to collaborate in the name of art. Side-by-side—and often together—the budding artists work on projects ranging from acrylic paintings to holiday ornaments, but often the finished product is little more than an afterthought.

“This class gives me some time to spend with my granddaughter. They grow up so fast that sometimes you just don’t get to spend any time with them,” said resident Terry Headrick. “When they first initiated the class and said they were going to do it, I jumped at the chance, and I asked Katie, my granddaughter, if she would be interested. She looks forward to it every month we have the class.”

Phyllis Sundgren, whose great granddaughters Alyssa, 9, and Emma, 13, often join her for the class, said she feels the same.

“It’s fun being with them, doing projects. I was surprised that they were as enthused to come and do that with me. If they’re available, they always want to come,” said Phyllis.

Beyond the chance to spend time with their loved ones, instructor Gina Lee believes the class offers additional benefits to the residents who participate.

“Art allows the residents to be creative and work their minds in a way they might not usually do,” said Gina. “Additionally, having the opportunity to connect with young people while making artwork is a relaxing, rewarding experience.”

And while you’d expect it to be the residents that are always lending a hand to the classes’ younger participants, Gina is surprised to find that it’s often the other way around.

“It is amazing how much support these children can give and the maturity they demonstrate even though they are young,” said Gina.

But like their grandparents, the kids who participate are really just there to have a good time.

“I enjoy getting a chance to spend time together. It’s fun, and I like meeting new people,” said Terry’s 13-year-old granddaughter Katie.

The significance of the class for Katie can be summed up in one project from last fall.

“In November, our project was a three-dimensional piece representing what we were thankful for, and I chose my Papa, because without him and Nana and my mom, I wouldn’t be here.”

In addition to the opportunity to spend time with their grandparents, each child who participates in the class gets a certificate of appreciation, a ribbon, is allowed to exhibit their art within the community and is invited to attend the Art is Ageless reception.

PHOTOS: Terry Headrick (left) and his granddaughter Katie enjoy creating works of art together. Phyllis Sundgren (right) enjoys having her great granddaughters paint with her at the intergenerational art classes.

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