UPPER ARLINGTON (WCMH) — Fifth graders at Wickliffe Elementary School in Upper Arlington welcomed some new students to their art class this year, but the newcomers graduated from high school decades ago.
The project is promoted by the Central Ohio Alzheimer’s Association, pairing people learning to live with Alzheimer’s with people who are still learning to live.
Each week throughout the school year, the class welcomed adult students who are learning to live with a disease that is, in some ways, taking them back to childhood.
“These kids are so smart and they work so hard at it and they are so fun. And you have fun, too. It’s great to be around them,” said Jim Walton, who is living with Alzheimer’s and was a student in the class.
At the beginning of the school year, a representative from the Alzheimer’s Association explained the disease to the children.
“This has fit really nicely with the class’s understanding that even young kids can give back,” teacher Sarah Oberlin said.
“They are more than well-behaved, you know, they are so helpful,” said Chuch Costakas, who is living with Alzheimer’s. “GG has taken me under her wing. She likes the limelight. You can see that.”
The students definitely get more out of the class than just art lessons, said Oberlin.
“It’s amazing to see that when we step back and fade into the background, the kids just intuitively know what to do,” she said. “They’re not judging. They’re not evaluating. They’re not measuring you up the way we sometimes do with other adults. They just engage with you with their natural curiosity and their helpfulness so it kind of makes a perfect match.”
“It’s been really cool because it’s art and art is so much fun and also it’s fun to hang out with people during the school day cause it kind of lightens the mood because you have to do math, which some people in our class love, but being able to do art with adults is fun,” said Zoe, one of the fifth-graders in the class.