Students from area schools invest in residents’ lives at Providence Palos Heights

students and staff surround a resident who holds a puppy

Students and faculty from Elim Christian Services bring their furry friends to visit residents at Providence in Palos Heights.

Several times a week, students from Marist High School, Mother McAuley High School, Elim Christian Services, Trinity Christian College, Sertoma Centre, St. George School, Andrew High School, and other area schools come to Providence Healthcare & Rehabilitation in Palos Heights to spend some time with the residents there, providing different services.

Marist High School students

Students and staff look on as a resident bowls

Marist students assist residents in a bowling activity.

Students at Marist High School have the opportunity to earn credits for religious education by assisting Providence’s Life Enrichment staff in activities at the skilled nursing care community. The residents love it.

“It’s a treat for us,” Laverne, Providence resident, says.

Grace, a senior at Marist, was at first hesitant to join the program. “I wasn’t really sure about it,” she says as she sets up bowling pins for an exercise activity. “I didn’t know if I would say the right thing, or do things in a way that would be helpful.” But her opinion has since changed. “Now I love it.”

students set up bowling pins as they await the resident to bowl

Some students were not sure how much they would enjoy their visits to Providence, but soon learned it was fun for all involved.

Brett, also a senior, never had any hesitation. “I was so excited about this,” he says. “I’d worked with seniors before, and I wanted to do it again. I’m an old soul myself.”

The students are graded on their participation in the program, which is largely based on their written reflections. Aiden, another senior at Marist, said, “Writing the reflections doesn’t feel like work at all. Coming here was my number one preference. I enjoy people’s stories. Everyone here has a story. I want to hear them all, and I want to tell them, too.”

Aiden is interrupted by a resident, wheeling up to him. “I have to go now,” he says. “Me and Bonnie here play cribbage.”

“And I always beat him,” Bonnie says.

Elim Christian Services students

a senior woman in a wheelchair kisses a puppy's head

Visits from Elim students, as well as pets from the Humane Society, are a special time for residents at Providence.

Students and staff from Elim Christian Services also come to visit residents, and they bring some furry friends along. Kathleen Joza-Kung, who has served at Elim for 15 years and also volunteers at the Humane Society, has been bringing dogs and students to Providence for about 4 years.

“This is good for everyone. The students get a chance to interact with the residents, the dogs are happy to get the attention, and the residents love all of it,” she says.

Rose, a resident at Providence, has been unable to leave her room due to medical reasons. She keeps dog treats on hand specifically for these canine visits. “How does it feel?” Michael, a student at Elim, asks Rose as a dog nestles in her lap.

“Wonderful,” Rose says. “So happy.”

Sandra, another resident, had tears in her eyes as she snuggled a pup. “I used to love dogs,” she says. “I’m so glad that I still get to see them.”

Trinity Christian College students

Exercise for Special Populations allows Trinity Christian College students to practice their skills at an exercise class they direct at Providence. Shari Jurgens, a professor at Trinity teaches the class.

students sit at the front of the class and residents sit across from them as they exercise

Trinity Christian College students lead Providence residents in exercises designed for their unique stage of life.

“Students come in here and they learn even more by experiences that go with what they learn in class,” she says. “Using what you’ve learned about fitness for all populations is crucial, and they can incorporate what they’ve learned in class into the activities they plan.”

Trinity also sends students in psychology and social work to complete their internships and participate in service learning, and other area colleges send student interns in medical fields.

Students and residents in wheelchairs hold an exercise parachute

Students assist residents in a parachute activity.

Providence welcomes the opportunities we have to join generations together. We hope we continue the tradition of each generation serving the next as we learn and grow by our relationships across all ages.

For more information about the skilled nursing care and post acute rehabilitation services offered by Providence Healthcare & Rehabilitation of Palos Heights, click here, or contact them at (708) 597-1000 or PHRC-PH@provlife.com.