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Why you should stop acting like a ‘grown-up’

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Posted on November 19, 2014 by Barb Krier ’14, counseling psychology .

Courtesy: Delaware Valley College A tile created by a resident at Neshaminy Manor. Residents captured memories from their lives and put them into the mosaic.

“We don’t stop playing because we grow old; We grow old because we stop playing.”-George Bernard Shaw

People of all ages want to play and have fun. Children are masters at reducing stress by being silly and creative. They giggle and laugh at themselves without worrying what someone else will think. Is there an age when we are supposed to give that up? Is it age 18 or 21, the age of young adulthood? Surely by the time we graduate from college we should “act like grown-ups.” Or, maybe we should stop playing when we become aunts, uncles or parents? When we are old enough to become grandparents, we should be too tired and settled to even care about playing, right?  Oh, no--that’s when the real fun begins!  Being silly and creative with children is one of the greatest joys of life. However, we should unquestionably stop playing by the time we go to live in a nursing home and need the help of others to assist us in our daily activities, right? Not according to the residents who live at Neshaminy Manor. Through recreational therapy, the residents stay young at heart.

The Arts for the Manor program at Neshaminy Manor recognizes that art is one of the many ways to keep us all young at heart. Creating a collaborative work of art promotes social interaction, reduces stress, and gives people a way to express themselves, including those who may not be able to communicate in the traditional way.  

Kathy Bates, director of recreation at Neshaminy Manor, and local artist Katia McGuirk worked together with many caring contributors for 12 years to create an amazing, massive tile mural project. Katia assisted the residents in creating beautiful memories from simple lumps of clay. Sitting out in the sunny courtyard, the residents, families, and the staff of Neshaminy Manor watched as the mural began to take shape, piece by precious handmade piece.

I am proud to say that Delaware Valley College students were part of this enormous undertaking. Students from the Smile Station, a student organization that visits people in long-term care and Alpha Phi Omega, a service fraternity, helped out over several years with fundraising and the physical labor of applying and grouting the mosaic. Most inspiring was the assistance given to the residents in making the pieces for the mosaic and applying their creations to the wall. 

It is one thing to say: “Look at this mosaic wall we have made for you to enjoy!” 

It is another thing entirely when the residents are bringing their visitors out to the courtyard and saying, “Look what I made!” 

They point with excitement and say, “I put that flower and bird up right there! My friend made that turtle! Look, isn’t it pretty?”  

There is obvious pride and joy in their voices. This is the same pride and joy they had as children showing their artwork hanging in the hallways of their elementary schools. It is clear that this project continues to bring the generations together and acknowledges that our older citizens have a great amount of value and worth in our society, and that playing never gets old!

Courtesy: Delaware Valley College Barb Krier '14 in front of the completed wall.