by Paddy Stewart
There’s a special shindig happening every month in the Glebe! The Residents at Chartwell Lord Lansdowne welcome a fun bunch of children and teachers who walk over from the Glebe Parents’ Day Care on Fifth Avenue by the Ritz. It’s an old fashioned family cèilidh with two tons of singing, laughing and dancing!
The children take off their boots in the hall at the seniors’ residence during the winter when they arrive. The fun starts when they enter the room where the residents, seated in a large circle, say a big “hi” to everyone. The kids plunk down smack dab in the middle to take off their mitts, tuques and snowsuits. It’s wonderful to feel the joy and energy these youngsters bring to the room!
Once the winter clothes are put away, entertainer Paddy Stewart gets this party started with action songs and giddy gimmicks. The children love his wild noisemakers and funny puppets. Everyone sings along while he plays guitar, banjelele or harmonica, not all at the same time, mind you! The kids love to get up to bounce and dance to some good old rock ’n’ roll tunes! I have been sharing joy and music with people ages two to 102 for over 30 years, and my experience in facilitating fun team-building sessions helps in designing the interaction of this remarkable party.
This interaction between the children and the seniors is always lively. I march the kids around to give high-fives to the residents as the adults sing “When the Saints Go Marching In.” Sometimes the children carry rhythm sticks around the circle and tap on the boom whackers the residents are holding while they sing “You Are My Sunshine.” Other times the teachers and I gather the children and seniors into small groups and blow bubbles over them to the delight of all. Of course, we are all singing “I’m Forever Blowing Bubbles!”
Midway through the party, the children sit and enjoy a juice box provided by their host, Chartwell Lord Lansdowne. While the kids take a break, I lead the residents in serenading them with songs like “Skinnamarink” and “Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah.” Then, I get the kids back up to shake, rattle and roll.
Janice Cameron, the teacher who brings the children, says, “Everyone loves our trips to see Paddy Stewart and the residents who are so happy to hear the children’s joy and laughter! This program is exactly what we need for both seniors and children.”
Jack, one of the children, says, “Paddy brings a woodpecker!” Kenzie adds, “And it pecks his guitar!”
Another highlight of the program is when Cameron leads the children in singing their special songs like “Snowflake” and “Baby Animals.” The three-year-olds always bring down the house with these songs as well as their rendition of “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.” They definitely should make a CD!
The residents at Chartwell Lord Lansdowne are enthralled! Claire Martin says, “We really look forward to the children every month.” Francis Chambers comments, “We love having them come. It brightens our day!”
When it’s time to wrap up, the children bring their snowsuits back into the middle of the room. Since most of the residents are experienced grandparents, they enjoy helping the kids do up their zippers and getting them ready to go!
And with that, another playful party winds up at Chartwell Lord Lansdowne. Janice Cameron and her teachers walk the children back to Glebe Parents’ Day Care after big waves and loud “bye byes” to me and the folks. Everyone is looking forward to next month already!
Paddy Stewart is an entertainer who has brought laughter and music to seniors for more than 30 years.