Project brings Nebraska youth, elderly together

April 1, 2018

FREMONT, Neb. (AP) — Local fifth-grader Nathan Kudrna got the idea while visiting his grandma at Nye Legacy.

“Last year when I was visiting my grandma there were a lot of people just sitting alone and they weren’t really doing anything,” he said. “So I thought it would be a good idea to have them do different activities.”

Now that idea has grown into the “Youth and Elderly Enrichment Program,” which was funded through the Fremont Area Community Foundation’s (FACF) Youth Philanthropy Contest.

The annual contest encourages young people throughout the community — in kindergarten through 12th grade — to ask themselves how they can make a difference in their communities.

Winners are then awarded up to a $1,000 grant from the FACF to go out and actually make that positive change, the Fremont Tribune reported. Kudrna received $250 to complete his “Youth and Elderly Enrichment Program.”

Every Wednesday, Kudrna and a few of his friends take time out of their afternoon to spend time with residents at Nye Legacy where they participate in activities like putt-putt golf, ring toss and checkers while also taking time to sit, visit and just spend some quality time together.

“I got some of my friends together and we bought T-shirts and then we bought some of these activities,” Kudrna said. “We have golf, ring toss, tic-tac-toe, and we sit together and have cookies afterward.”

According to Jill Stober, Nye Legacy’s director of life enrichment, although the program just started a few weeks ago, it is already having an impact on residents.

“This is only the third week, but they are already building the relationships with the residents,” she said. “They are a great group of kids, they are very respectful, and they have as much fun as our residents do.”

Kudrna and two of his friends, Jase Laday and Jackson Jones, recently spent their afternoon playing putt-putt golf and ring toss with several Nye Legacy residents.

One of those residents was Betty Lou Hadley, who laughed and smiled after sinking a putt while the three students and onlookers cheered her on.

According to Stober, the putt-putt portion of the program is particularly enjoyable to Hadley, because she was an avid golfer in her younger days.

“People that knew her always say she was a good golfer, and we told her that she could do the putt-putt from her chair, but she wants to get up because that is what she did when she was younger,” she said.

Hadley downplayed her skills on the golf course, but did say she spent a lot of time golfing in her younger days in Valparaiso.

“The other people thought I was good, but I didn’t think so,” she said. “It was fun for me. It wasn’t something I did for a living so I just had a lot of fun out there.”

After spending around 45 minutes sinking putts and tossing rings, the group moved into a dining area at Nye Legacy and enjoyed cookies, Capri Sun, and answered trivia questions together.

According to FACF Executive Director Melissa Diers, Kudrna’s “Youth and Elderly Enrichment Program” is an ideal example of what the annual Youth Philanthropy Contest is all about.

“It was something he (Kudrna) saw and recognized as an opportunity, and it is a need that he himself could do something about. He just needed a little bit of help and that is where we stepped in,” she said.

Another unique aspect of Kudrna’s “Youth and Elderly Enrichment Program” is the scalability of the project.

“One of his goals that he has already talked about is getting more people involved and actually being able to do this at additional facilities,” Brian Kudrna, Nathan’s father, said.

For Diers, the “Youth and Elderly Enrichment Program,” like all of the Youth Philanthropy Contest projects are a way to show children that philanthropy is not only important but also fun.

“It is inspiring every year we watch our contest recipients go out and do amazing things,” she said. “It always brings a smile to my face.”


Information from: Fremont Tribune, http://www.fremontneb.com

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