Abell Salutes: “Magic Me”

September 1988 / Salutes / Health and Human Services

The young learn from the old and the old learn from the young–and both have a wonderful time.

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.