The Abell Foundation has awarded grants totaling $82,500 to “Magic Me,” a program designed to “train, educate, and excite preteen children about various aspects of human service to the elderly in community nursing homes.”
The program, called by founder Kathy Levin, “imaginative community service,” brings 11-to-14 year old children, many of them emotionally at risk, together one-on-one with senior citizens living in nursing homes. The visits are at least one, hour a week during school time throughout the school year.
The Baltimore program, now replicated in 41 cities and in Europe, includes participation by nine public and three private schools. Roughly 70% of the inner city students are black; 40% are boys.
One teacher writes of her involvement, “The major goal as I understand it is to draw out students who have not had positive school experiences in the past, teach them to relate to the elderly, and to help them apply their success to the school program. I have personally seen this transfer of positive attitudes and growth in self-esteem work miracles.” And a nurse, observing students interacting with her residents in a nursing home, is moved to remark, “I am seeing a total change of character in some of these people.”
“Magic Me” is growing, garnering recognition and community support. All of it, in the view of The Abell Foundation, richly deserved.