The little girl visits the retirement facility once or twice a week to spend time with the senior citizens there and sharpen her storytelling skills.
Intergenerational programs have earned widespread attention in the last few years. Many factors have contributed to this phenomenon, primarily the increase in loneliness in a person's life in a certain age group. But seven-year-old Maggie Kuznia has taken it upon herself to spread joy and form unbreakable bonds with seniors at the Good Samaritan Society — Heritage Grove Senior Living, an assisted living facility in Minnesota. As reported by KARE 11, she not only enjoys good company among senior citizens but also improves her reading skills by reading to them. The older adults, in turn, have something to look forward to every day.
Maggie Kuznia loves books and talking about the fictional worlds within them. For her, reading is not a solitary activity, she enjoys the hobby best when she is sharing the stories she's read with people. Her favorite partners in this pursuit are the elderly at the retirement facility in East Grand Forks. Therefore, once or twice a week she will be found in the facility with a book in hand reading to one of them. Through this practice, she has grown more confident in her reading abilities and has also earned some adorable friends along the way.
Maggie came across these senior adults owing to her mother Tiffany Kuznia's work at the care facility. Tiffany works as an activity director in the retirement facility and often takes her daughter to work. Initially, she was not aware of the sweet tradition Maggie had cooked up with the people in the facility. One day she asked Maggie to take a Nintendo Switch with her so she would not get bored on the premises, but Maggie quickly said, “I'm going to bring books and I'm going to read to the residents.”
The girl knocks on every door of the facility to offer her services. She has earned some regular companions, who, without fail, sit with her to read. She chooses a different book for all her companions as per their tastes. One of her favorite residents to read to is Patti Griggs, a retired elementary school teacher. Griggs enjoys Maggie's company a lot and is astounded by her reading aptitude. Griggs shares, “She’s such a good little reader. I taught first grade, and I taught kids how to read. There were very few children who could come in and read like that.”
In order to test Maggie, Griggs got her a book which she felt would be hard for the girl to read. To her surprise, she breezed through it. Now both of them are teaming up for their next adventure of writing a book together. Griggs has nothing but good words for Maggie for taking up this activity. “I think the intergenerational part is so good,” Griggs said. “Everybody likes to have the attention of another person and be special to them.”
Maggie not only focuses on stories during these reading sessions, but she is also a natural conversationalist. Throughout the session, she would talk about puzzles, ice cream bars, and everything under the sun with her companions. She ensures that they are engaged and also takes tips from them to improve her own talent. While reading to Margaret Sondreal, a 96-year-old resident, she struggled with the word "exhausted" and was quickly corrected by Margaret. The exercise is a two-way street benefitting both parties, where both the older and the younger generations get something out of meaningful bonding.