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‘Beautiful things are happening here:’ Combining senior care with child care

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GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – A new program is bringing seniors together with little children, and both old and young are enjoying one another's company.

The Bethlehem Intergenerational Center cares for 5-year-olds and 75-year-olds under the same roof. The unusual move was made after the center spent a year researching the concept, said Sue Davidson, the center's director.

"We do large group activities at least once a day, but the magic really happens during those small groups," Davidson said. The center has two wings, one dedicated to the care and education of young children, the other dedicated to the care and enrichment of the elderly.

The magic happens when the two age groups come together, says Davidson. "They know each other's names and they're seeking each other out."

"To watch it happen is heartwarming," says Rebecca Lopez, a certified nurse's aid.

"I know the little kids love having grandpa or grandma figures around, and they love having the grandchildren around," she said. "It's a wonderful program, and I see it going far."

"This program is about engagement and relationship and sense of purpose and having a safe place to bring your loved one during the day," Davidson said.

A full day at the center costs $78 and a half day costs $49. The center is located at 250 Commerce Avenue SW in Grand Rapids. For more information call 616-46-1741.

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