From the Field in Fitchburg

File_000We love Fitchburg! So many Bridges communities report back to us about their successes and anecdotes, and Fitchburg has been really rocking it lately. Back in October, the McKay Arts Academy – a lab school located on the campus of Fitchburg State University – paired up with Adult Learning in the Fitchburg Area (ALFA) to implement Bridges: Growing Together, our curriculum designed for grades 3-6. Since then, three 3rd grade classrooms have gone through the lessons with their adult volunteers.

The feedback and stories that we’ve received “from the field” in Fitchburg have made our day on several occasions. Intergenerational Facilitator Julie Shaw and Communications Director Amy Wilson Sheldon visited one classroom in February to witness the program’s “reunion” where the ALFA volunteers donated an interactive globe to the 3rd graders. The enthusiasm of both the kids and the adults was palpable, and it was a delight to talk with one husband and wife pair who were eager to start the program again in another 3rd grade classroom.

File_002Since then, Lisa Moison, Director of the Extended Campus Program and Professional Studies at Fitchburg State, has been regularly updating Bridges Together with anecdotes about the program. She has sent along photos of the quilts that the 3rd graders made – with the help of some of the pupils’ grandparents for a truly intergenerational undertaking – for their Bridges volunteers. And about a month ago, she let us know about a Fitchburg School Committee Meeting, where McKay Principal Lourdes Ramirez was given nearly 15 minutes (!) to talk about the impact of the Bridges program on her pupils. You can see firsthand this wonderful testament to the efficacy and power of the Bridges program here. (Select “School Committee” and then the 4/25/16 meeting. Bridges is introduced around 7:50.) Need a quick “cheat sheet”? Ms. Ramirez provides the School Committee with some Fast Facts: 8 core training team members + 12 older adult volunteers + 74 students in 3rd grade + 90 minutes of volunteer training = 420 minutes of “building Bridges.”


One of the quilts made by McKay 3rd graders

According to Ms. Ramirez, “This program has become really dear to my heart because I see the impact it has brought to our students…We are all unique, and we all bring something special to this world…I look forward to continuing this program in years to come.”

Thank you to Lourdes Ramirez, Lisa Moison (who is also part of the Bridges Together advisory committee and the Massachusetts Intergenerational Coalition) and all the other Bridges supporters in Fitchburg. We are thrilled that you are now a part of our community!


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