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Juniors and seniors get crafty at Mercy

Veronica Rivers, an 84-year-old Mercy Living Center resident watches as Norah Dew-Pratt, 2, gets glitter on an ornament, and all over herself, during a Christmas craft project in December 2019. (Enterprise photo — Aaron Cerbone)

TUPPER LAKE — The basement of Mercy Living Center was filled with cookies, real and fake; smiling faces, young and old; and glitter — lots of glitter.

Wednesday was the first event bringing the Adirondack Health nursing facility’s elder residents and the kids in Sarah Dew-Pratt’s new Timber Tots day care location on Mercy’s first floor together for crafts and laughs.

The day care center is leasing a five-room wing in the nursing home, so while older folks roll around in wheelchairs in most of the building, just behind a set of doors infants, toddlers and 5-year-olds are wheeling around on toy trucks and strollers.

“I’ve been doing this for 10 years out of my home, and I really wanted to get it out of my home,” Dew-Pratt said.

On Wednesday, kids and seniors decorated cookie ornaments. Veronica Rivers, an 84-year-old Mercy resident, said it was exciting playing with the tykes, pointing out their glitter-drenched hands and laughing as the sparkles spread across copies of the Enterprise layered to protect the table.

Kids these days

“It gives me some kind of energy, positive energy,” Rivers said. “They’re so funny. But they don’t know why they are funny.”

Rivers said she personally didn’t like the craft. Working with the sprinkles is too messy for her tastes. She prefers sewing and used to sew clothes for five girls of her own. Still, she said she loved the event because of the children.

Across the table, a girl with a sticky hand full of glitter had poked some of it onto her father’s shirt.

“They do whatever comes into their mind,” Rivers said.

Unlike some other people’s view on “kids these days,” Rivers is hopeful for this young generation. She said today’s kids are very smart and that when she asks them a question, they have a quick answer. She said the kids she knew years ago were not like this, and she attributed this change to technology. While media like television or the internet are often looked to as the cause of many of society’s many woes, Rivers sees a positive side to being raised holding an iPad, saying the constant feed of information has produced an informed and sharp generation.

From house to nursing home

The new day care location will have capacity for 22 kids, but Dew-Pratt said she is starting with with 10 kids and two employees.

Her 83-year-old mother has been an early childhood educator most of her life, and she said when she planned to move her day care to the nursing home, the idea of putting on inter-generational activities two or three times a month excited her. Mercy Director Madeline Toliver was also excited by the idea.

“A lot of people are afraid of older people when they don’t grow up near them,” Toliver said.

Dew-Pratt and her partners at Adirondack Health have spent the past year renovating the rooms, painting the walls, installing sinks and redoing the floors. She received money from the Adirondack Foudnation’s Generous Acts fund as well as the Cloudsplitter Foundation and Adirondack Health. (Correction: This last sentence was incorrect in an earlier version of this article.)

Dew-Pratt is just waiting for her state licensing. Since New York changed its regulations in September, she had to redo her background checks. The day care is not yet officially open, but she hopes to have the wing of the nursing home ready for business by the start of next year.

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