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Philadelphia teens “gain wisdom” from interning at suburban nursing home

Six weeks of summer fun and games at Ivy Hill Rehabilitation & Nursing Center in Montgomery County will come to a close this week as a group of local teenagers return to school for the fall semester.

Iyanna Johnson, of Mt. Airy, will be entering her senior year following her summer internship with Philadelphia Youth Network’s WorkReady program, a career-building initiative run through North Light Community Center in Manayunk.

Since the first week of July, Johnson, 18, and two other high school students have been working at Ivy Hill in Wyndmoor – not far from E. Mt. Airy – in various departments within the facility.

Johnson worked in the recreation department.

“Every day we keep them updated with what’s going on in the outside world,” she said. ” Then after 2 p.m., we play different games with them to keep them occupied.”

Last Friday, students helped organize the center’s annual ‘senior olympics,’ an event some residents have been practicing for since the start of August.

Some of this year’s sporting events included a bean bag toss and basketball. All of them were adapted so they could be played from a seated position.

 ” It’s just funny to see as they got older that they didn’t lose their competitive streak,” said Maureen Green, who heads the center’s recreational department. ” They almost get ready to go to blows.”

In addition to planning on-site activities, students helped organize outings with the senior residents.

They’ve traveled to the movies, the casino, and several local restaurants. Coming up is a trip to the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the annual Ivy Hill senior prom.

The prom is a formal affair where residents get dressed up, dance and enjoy champagne and other refreshments.

WorkReady pays student interns to to work five days a week.

Every Tuesday, students were expected to meet at North Light for a weekly career-building session. The other week days were devoted to their assigned jobs, which were suggested to them based on their career interests.

“Some are in elderly care, others are at daycares,” said Johnson, “there’s different facilitates that work with wherever you want to be when you grow up, so it works out for everybody.”

Green noted that WorkReady not only provides real-life, professional experience, but a character-building opportunity as well.

“They gain a lot of wisdom,” she said, ” I think they were able to find themselves a little bit as far as what they might want to do when they grow up, how to have respect for somebody older than you, and just laughing with them. Like they actually enjoy hanging out with them. You definitely see the bridged gap between generations and the difference in decades, so it’s been a lot of fun.”

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