A social skills program at Niverville Middle School is impacting students and community members in a significant way. 

Four grade eight boys are part of the social skills program which connects them with seniors living at Heritage Manor. 

The boys shared their experiences at a recent Hanover School Board meeting, talking about the fascinating stories they have heard, the friendships that have formed, and how this has greatly improved their self-confidence. 

Teacher Susan Simcoe calls it a life-changing experience, pointing out that education happens in many forms, and this is a valuable learning opportunity for everyone. 

Brayden told trustees about some of the ways this program has changed him. 

“When we meet, we learn how to socialize more, we play games like Skip-Bo, and we get to be with our friends who are working on the same skills. Being here is different than being in a regular classroom because it’s more relaxed. It feels safer to be myself. I’m more confident and I’ve become more of a leader in our social skills group.” 

When the group was informed that they would be having regular visits at the Heritage Manor, Brayden was not sure what to expect, and he had his doubts that it would be enjoyable. 

Listening to this student share a bit about his visits and his elderly friends, it was obvious that his doubts had vanished. With bright eyes and a big smile, Brayden told the school board about an experience that he will never forget. 

“One special visit, Dick came in and he had a box full of stuff and told us a story from when he was a child. I can still remember the story. He opened the box for us and there were three rhino beetles. This was, no exaggeration, the best day of my life,” he said. “Going to the manor every two weeks is my favourite part of school.” 

Trustees heard the students talk about some of the stories they enjoyed, learning from their senior friends, how their conversation skills have improved, and learning more about the world and being more respectful of seniors.

(All photos are submitted)