By: Ryan Toughill, 6th grade participant in Better Together, Phoenix
Ryan was the winner of our local Better2Write contest
For more information about joining Better Together – please email firstname.lastname@example.org
Until I joined Better Together I had never taken the time to sit down and get to know the seniors other than those that are related to me. Thanks to this program now I have, and it was a wonderful experience. At Better Together, we do lots of fun activities with the seniors. We did things like make cupcakes, build keepsake boxes, play bingo, and now we’re starting to make a film about their lives. We plan to interview them. I love spending time with them and getting to know them.
The first time I went to the Better Together program, we made cupcakes for the seniors. I didn’t know what to expect, and I was afraid that they wouldn’t like me or that they would be mean. Of course I was far from the truth. The seniors were lovely, and I enjoyed working with them. We had to make cupcakes based on a theme. The seniors judged the cupcakes and picked out which ones they wanted to eat. Sadly, my cupcake lost the judging, and none of my cupcakes were eaten. Maybe it was all for the better because I got to eat my cupcakes instead. Even though I didn’t win, I still had a lot of fun and learned a lot.
The next time, I knew a bit more of what to expect and we made keepsake boxes for the seniors. This time, however, there was a twist. It was the 7th night of Hanukkah and before we got started, we had a small service where we said the candle blessings and sang some Jewish songs with the seniors that were Jewish. Afterwards, we sat down with a senior and got to know a little bit about them. We worked on the box and chatted for a while until the box was done. The senior I worked with named Betty, kept the box. She was very kind and sweet. I’m glad that I got to sit down and get to know her.
Another time, when we went we played a fun bingo game with the seniors. We were told to bring in small prizes for the winners. We also had treats and drinks that we served to them while they played. It appeared to me that the seniors had a lot of fun. At the end of the night, many of the seniors had won and were claiming their prizes. I wished it had lasted longer than just one hour. I’m really glad that I got to play bingo with them.
The other time that I went to better together, we interviewed the seniors. We went around in stations to listen to everyone’s stories. They all had unique stories to tell us about their memories and their experiences. Almost everyone had something sad to say which made me feel bad, but for the most part they all seemed to be happy. We are going to make a short video about the senior’s lives. We are going to take the information we gathered from the interviews and show people what it was like for them growing up and going through life. On our next visit we will record the seniors being interviewed so that we can make the movie.
That, however, won’t be all we have to do. We will have to learn how to operate the camera and all of the other parts first. Before we film them, all of the kids will be meeting separately in order to learn how to use the equipment. I will be a cameraman for the video, but there are many other important roles. Kids are doing things like lighting, sound, filming, and one of the most important parts, interviewing the seniors. I will be the cameraman. I am in charge of filming and the sound. I will record videos and lots more. The “grips” move the lights and stuff like that around, the director tells everyone how to adjust things to make it look better, and the editors help to make it look nicer and more sophisticated.
During our final week, we will be doing the film with the seniors. As fun as it will be, it will be the last session we have and I will miss the colleagues I have met there as well as the seniors I have gotten to know. I’m going to miss them.
I will never forget some of the great people that I have met at Better Together. I met amazing people like Betty, whom I made the keepsake box with and Ruth, who is currently 103 years old. I think that this program has and will continue to have a huge impact on my life.I had a lot of fun with the Better Together program. We did lots of fun activities. It was one incredible experience after the next. My favorite activities were making cupcakes and playing on bingo night. I am having a lot of fun with the Better Together program.