SAPLINGS: Establishing Roots in the Community

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Thursday June 28, 2012

The joy of a child in their carefree exploration of life, combined with the warmth and wisdom of our area senior citizens is what the SAPLINGS program is all about.   SAPLINGS, developed by resident Holly Baker, South Burlington Recreation Program Supervisor, stands for Seniors And Preschoolers Linking Intergenerational Needs & Growing Successful Communities.  

The program, intended for South Burlington preschoolers and senior citizens to interact, was launched by Holly in March shortly after its conception and planning began in January.  It is a combined effort of the South Burlington Recreation & Parks Department and the South Burlington Family Center. The kickoff SAPLINGS meeting, “Green Eggs and Ham,” was held March 6th in celebration of Dr. Seuss’ Birthday with only 12 people in attendance.  Last month’s meeting, however, more than doubled that number, with 30 people in attendance.

According to Baker, she designed the program to build community strength through the bond of socialization.  When thinking about how best to meet the South Burlington community needs, she realized there were not as many programs for preschoolers and senior citizens as there are for other ages.  Those thoughts combined with her realization of what intergenerational meetings could do for both the preschool and senior population inspired her to start the program, and in turn has led to its success. She said she finds the program beneficial and rewarding for all involved.  It is especially rewarding for her to see the outcome of happy faces and positive comments from meeting attendees.  It helps her to know she is meeting the needs of her neighbors in the community through a job she also finds fulfilling. 

Holly, a mother of four, knows what a parent thinks firsthand when taking part in a fun outing or meeting such as SAPLINGS.  She keeps all of that in mind when planning the agenda or program for each monthly meeting ensuring each has a variety of themes and includes activities such as craft projects, coloring contests, sing-a-longs, story time, and games.  Upcoming themes include Stars & Stripes for July 3rd a Teddy Bear Picnic (August), a grandparents celebration (September), a pumpkin party (October), and a Healthy Harvest event (November).

When  asked what her attendance goal is, Holly said she would like to see regular attendance of at least 60 people.

The meetings are free and are held on the first Tuesday of every month from 9:30am until about 11:00am.  Holly invites all who are interested in finding out about the program to attend the next meeting July 3rd.  It is scheduled for Jaycee Park on Patchen Road.  The meeting theme is “Stars and Stripes.”  The meeting attendees will enjoy a patriotic snack (hint and a wink—she says red strawberries dipped in white chocolate!) and enjoy a reading of the story “Fourth Of July Mice.”  The group will also work on some parade ready crafts. 

SAPLINGS is open to all South Burlington citizens.  There is no registration form to fill out, but Holly asks if you’re planning to attend to please give a courtesy phone call so she can keep an accurate count for supplies and snacks.  You can reach Holly Baker at the South Burlington Recreation office in City Hall or by telephone at 802-846-4116.

SOURCE: Gayle Burke, Correspondent