A project designed to bring Cutler Bay’s senior citizens and students together took a creative approach to overcome obstacles to the delight of young and old alike.
Part of a cultural and educational partnership program developed by Council member (Seat 2) Sue Loyzelle with the help of town staff and the South Miami-Dade Cultural Arts Center (SMDCAC), the program sought to use the arts as a tool to “enhance inter-generational communication and promote intra-dependant relationships” between the town’s seniors and youth. But it took some work to get it going.
“There was a grant available from the department of elder affairs, and we applied for it,” Council member Loyzelle said. “One of the categories was an inter-generational program, so I met with the South Miami-Dade Cultural Arts Center and we designed a program. We didn’t get the grant, unfortunately, but we decided it was such a neat program that we were going to do it anyway.
“So we brought our resources together and did the project even though we didn’t get the funding. Instead of hiring buses to take the students to the Cultural Arts Center we took the seniors to the school, which saved some money. We just had to be more creative.”
In mid-February visiting artist Ronald K. Brown, creative director of Evidence–A Dance Company, met with students at Mays Conservatory of the Arts, and seniors from Pine Wood Villa, Lake Shore, Saga Bay and East Ridge centers joined in for the first Inter generational dance program. There were a series of workshops for dance and movement exploration.
Betty White, an 88-year-old resident of East Ridge Retirement Center, had praise for the event and everyone involved in it.
“It was great,” White said later. “Those kids were wonderful, and just so sweet and kind to us, and helpful, doing all these dances. We were trying to keep up with them. They were laughing and we were laughing and we had a really good time.
“Then we went to the Cultural Center and the teacher that was teaching these children he was absolutely fabulous,” White added. “He took it easy on us and the group of middle schoolers, but he was just so talented it was unbelievable. We enjoyed it.”
The participants later attended the dance production titled On Earth Together performed by Evidence–A Dance Company on Feb. 18.
Council member Loyzelle was pleased with the way everything turned out and hopes to keep the program going.
“We’re still looking for grants so we can expand and do it more often,” Loyzelle said. “They all really got close. The seniors talked about ‘what are your goals’ and ‘what do you want to do in school’ and they got to have those conversations.
“The students loved it too, working with the seniors, and they studied about the artist before he came in so they knew who he was and the type of work that he did. They got to work with him and learn more about his techniques.”
Loyzelle said that the Town of Cutler Bay is starting a Communities for a Lifetime Senior Committee and is looking for people who would like to be on it.
“We’ll look at other things besides the cultural arts, such as the transportation issues in our town, housing issues and healthcare issues,” Loyzelle said. “So we’ll want to bring people from those different areas into the committee.”