Generations collide, learn together at the Adult Care Center

  • By TABITHA REEVES The Winchester Star
  • Mar 6, 2024 Updated Mar 6, 2024

WINCHESTER — On Wednesday, children filed into the Adult Care Center of the Northern Shenandoah Valley, soon filling the room with songs, shouts and laughter — the bright attitude a stark contrast from the damp morning gloom through the windows.

For the first time since before the COVID-19 pandemic, the nonprofit’s weekly intergenerational program is back. Clients of the Adult Care Center — those coping with physical or cognitive challenges often related to dementia or stroke — are given the opportunity to be “grandfriends” to 4-year-olds from Fremont Street Nursery in Winchester.

“They help each other’s heart,” activity director Whitney Lan said.

en kids and 10 adults joined together to engage in music and mobility therapy, developing a friendly bond that pays no heed to the generational gap.

Lan explained that the benefits for the older population can range from increasing self esteem to alleviating depression. It is also healthy for the young ones to partake in as well, since most of the activities are tailored to their age group, and many may not have a grandparent of their own, Lan said.

Participants were able to get to know each other on Wednesday. They began by singing a “What is your name?” song to a simple tune, which Lan led on the guitar, infecting both children and grandfriends with her bubbly energy.

As the event went on, even the children who had entered with initial shyness were stomping and grooving, some holding hands with their older counterparts, many of whom shared the moment with excited grins.

“I try to mix it around with social-oriented cognition and the physical,” Lan said, listing advantages such as to lengthen attention span, express themselves in response to songs, control their behavior and learn new language through repetitive, catchy tunes.

In addition to song and dance, the children and their grandfriends played interactive games, one of which involved passing a ball around the room, enabling each to utilize their motor skills.

It was the first time attending for Shayla White, an employee of five years at Fremont Street Nursery.

“I think it’s great for the kids, and I think they’re excited,” White said.

Having been with the Adult Care Center for about a year, it was also activity assistant Rachel Taylor’s first time witnessing the activity. Where Lan contributed primarily to structuring the musical elements, Taylor helped to form the more physical elements, as a first-year student in the doctor of occupational therapy program at Shenandoah University.

She is excited to be helping out not just for the good it provides the center’s clients, but also since it gives her an opportunity to apply her classroom knowledge.

Now that participants have begun to build a relationship, they will return on a weekly basis to continue to grow together and learn.

“Some of [the adults] are more active with the kids, but there were definitely a lot of smiles,” Taylor said. “It gets them up and moving. I think it’s helpful for them.”

For more information about the Adult Care Center, visit For more about Fremont Street Nursery, visit

— Contact Tabitha Reeves at