HJ/EDEnterprise Dispatch, Dec. 5, 2005

Cokato fourth graders participate in foster grandparent program

By Kristen Miller
Staff Writer

Activities Director Joy Marschel of Cokato Manor “knows how important it is to keep the foster grandparent program going.”

The foster grandparent program has been ongoing for 30 years. Before the new Dassel-Cokato Middle School was built, sixth graders would walk to Cokato Manor to visit and interact with a foster grandparent. Now, it’s the Cokato Elementary’s fourth graders who partake.

This is a four week program in which 20 to 30 kids and residents from Cokato Manor, Brookridge and the Heritage Place interact and do various activities together.

Each session is about 45 minutes to an hour long.

The first session is the “get to know you” game where the pair each have a letter about themselves and their families and share their stories.

The second session, the pair play Bingo together. “They have a lot of fun with that,” Marschel said.

Craft time is the third session in which they make various crafts, and on the fourth, they bowl in a unique way, she said.

Many kids return after the session to volunteer or they come back to visit their foster grandparents. Many will come back for caroling, Marschel said.

This is a good program, “our clients look forward to it,” Marschel said. “Many keep the letters and pictures on their bulletin boards,” she said.

“It’s a positive experience for both the kids and clients,” Marschel continued, “seeing the kids and the elderly blending together with no diversity between them.”

“It’s fascinating to listen to the foster grandparents and the kids talking and sharing stories,” according to Cokato Elementary Fourth Grade Teacher Pat Kusler,

“The kids are excited to go and disappointed when they have to get on the bus.”

“It’s a good program and we would do it longer if we had the time and the finances,” Kusler said.

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