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Living Legacy

Marquette Elementary School, Chicago, IL
Capital: Social, Personal

Through the Living Legacy Program in Chicago, a group of elementary school students from Marquette Elementary School on the Southwest Side regularly visit a local senior living center. The group of 15 Hispanic and African-American youth engage in a variety of activities with the seniors throughout the school year. The students read to the seniors, and the seniors also read to the youth. The two groups also play educational games together, which helps break the ice and allows the students and seniors to get to know each other.

An additional activity is that the students and seniors engage in an interview project that culminates at the end of the school year. Students interview the seniors and then develop a brochure highlighting the seniors' biographies, complete with pictures. Some of the questions that students ask include the following: "What is your most favorite memory as a child, and why? What do you think is one of the greatest events that has happened in your lifetime? What is one of the saddest moments? If you could turn back the hands of time and change something in your life, what would it be? How would you like to be remembered?"

The program was started when the out-of-school time program began to research the community and look at what local groups were not being served by the program. The senior group stood out primarily because it did not have any community involvement.

The Living Legacy Program has shown benefits for students and seniors. As students practice their reading skills, their reading ability improves. The reading material has been raised in difficulty, which in turn has helped the continued increase in test scores and participation of the students involved. The senior citizens involved are more engaged and stimulated because of the regular student visits. As a result of this program, the seniors have a greater appreciation for the youth and the youth look up to and enjoy being around the seniors. This program also has strengthened and integrated community and family involvement.

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