Noam 4th Grade Chesed Project Kickoff

Posted on November 17, 2010

Earlier today I had the pleasure of kicking off the 4th grade chesed project at Yeshivat Noam. Each 4th grade class will be assigned an area senior center and will visit that center several times throughout the year. My task was to explain to the 75 4th graders the project, how it will work and to provide them with tips to help them interact with the seniors. I was joined by middle school students Yehuda, Ari, Sivya, Abby, Eli and Atara who have been trained by Areyvut as Mitzvah Clowns and participate in monthly visits to area senior centers. The students played a central role in the presentation and it was awesome being able to watch 6th and 7th graders prepare the 4th graders for their project.

I spoke briefly about Mitzvah Clowning and explained the project to the 4th graders. The middle school students introduced themselves, told the 4th graders how visiting seniors impacts them and gave them ideas for what to do when they visit. Some of the ideas and tips included:

  • Knock before entering a patient’s room.
  • Make eye contact and smile.
  • Use the patient’s name when speaking to them.
  • Introduce yourself. Tell them your name, where you are from and why you are visiting today.
  • Sit down to talk to people or stand on the side of the bed, not the foot.
  • Be a good listener.
  • Be patient and allow the patient/resident to repeat themselves or take their time in answering questions.
  • Ask questions with a tone of voice that shows you are interested in the answers.
  • If you are visiting a large group, be sure to approach everyone and include everyone in the conversation.
  • Pay attention to body language and cues. If the patient/resident seems tired or restless, prepare to leave.
  • Do not overstay your welcome. 15 minutes is a good amount of time to visit, unless you are in the middle of a specific activity.
  • Announce that you are leaving a few minutes before your need to go. This gives the resident/patient time to prepare for the transition.
  • Do not offer any food or drinks without explicit permission from a nurse on duty.
  • Be polite to the staff of the home or hospital. They work hard and make a difference on a daily basis.
  • Ask about their hobbies and interests.
  • Ask about their favorite television shows and activities.
  • Comment on family photographs or cards received.
  • Give compliments when appropriate.
  • Follow-up on their comments with more questions.
  • DO NOT ask about family members that are not shown in pictures.
  • DO NOT ask hospital patients or residents about their conditions unless they bring up the topic.

The highlight of the program and the part that the students enjoyed the most was the role playing. Students had a chance to watch the middle school student’s act out a visit to a senior and comment on what went well and what they could improve upon. The students enjoyed Abby and Atara act out a “regular” visit and had lots of fun watching Sivya and Eli for a more “challenging” visit.

If you are reading this and have a child in the 4th grade please ask them about this.

Areyvut works with lots of schools on a variety of programs but this was unique. (Full disclosure: I am a parent in the school and a member of the schools Middot Committee.) Yeshivat Noam has a chesed project for each grade that is built into the curriculum and is done so in an interdisciplinary way. Both the Judaic and General Studies teachers were at the kickoff and both will play an active role in facilitating the program. The project was put into a context at the outset and throughout the process the teachers and school leadership will reflect with the students on their experience and make changes as necessary. Parent volunteers will accompany the students on each visit and the school’s Middot Committee plays an active role in supporting this project as well as those of the other grades. Finally, the middle school students who Areyvut trained as Mitzvah Clowns were leading the project kickoff.

As a result of this approach, I am confident that the 4th grade chesed project will be a powerful experience for all those involved and will facilitate additional chesed opportunities for the students and their families.

This is what Areyvut is all about; getting students involved when they are young and igniting a lifelong commitment to chesed, tzedakah and tikkun olam.

I invite you to join us at one of our upcoming events and to help support our important work in the community.

I want to thank the Middot Committee, the school leadership, the 4th grade teachers and the middle school students for their help with the program.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email