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The Educational Support Program in Elementary School by the Elderly

Hayato Uchida, School of Human Science and Environment, University of Hyogo; Yoshinori Fujiwara, Tokyo Metropolitan Institute of Gerontology; Toshio Nishigaki, Harumi Sakuda, School of Human Science and Environment, University of Hyogo, Japan; Shoji Shinkai, Tokyo Metropolitan Institute of Gerontology

The purpose of this study was to clarify the educational support program in elementary school given by older adult volunteers and its influence on their health status. This program was based on Experience Corps in Baltimore. The program served students in grades 1-3 during the school day, and two volunteers were assigned to a classroom. The volunteers attended homeroom and played with students during rest breaks in the school day. They also worked at the direction of the teacher to support student literacy, physical education, arts and crafts, etc.

The subjects were six seniors (age 66.8 ± 5.8) and 64 students (age 7.4 ± 0.6) who lived in Himeji, Japan. We selected subjects for control groups including 62 community-dwelling persons aged 65 years or over who lived in the same district and 112 students (age 7.3 ± 0.7) who lived in a neighboring district. We carried out a baseline survey in the beginning of February 2007, and the follow-up surveys were done for senior volunteers and students in January 2008. We questioned several items such as motivation, benefits, and difficulties of this program by using a group interview method for seniors. A questionnaire for the students included health status, mental and emotional support from family, and school life and its rules. Through engaging in the educational support program in elementary school for a year, mental satisfaction and social networks were clearly promoted in senior volunteers. Health status test scores also increased in students.


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