Seniors and students have a ball at S-W elementary school

SEDRO-WOOLLEY — They bowled. They smiled. They bowled. They laughed.

It was something special indeed as two generations — one young and the other young at heart — came together inside Evergreen Elementary School gym.

For members of the Life Skills class, a program for students with disabilities that combines academics and social interaction skills, it was a chance to expand their horizons.

For residents of Sedro-Woolley’s Country Meadow Village retirement community, it was a chance to connect with youths.

It was difficult to tell which group was having more fun.

“They (County Meadow residents) have been here before,” said Evergreen Principal Brian Isakson. “It’s great to see. They come and participate in our Life Skills class physical education program. It’s definitely multigenerational. It’s really neat to see the interaction.”

David Bricka, Country Meadow Village program director, said he and Evergreen physical education teacher Stacy Price came up with the idea.

“We had done art projects before,” Bricka said. “We decided this time around to do some physical fitness. Stacy has a real passion for fitness and for education. Plus, it goes to show that exercise is for life. Plus, our folks like to hang out with kids.”

The Life Skills class is taught by Amyrl Geary and includes children from kindergarten to sixth grade.

“It encompasses a variety of needs,” Isakson said. “Last year, they came and did an art project with the kids. They come here once a year, and we go there. It’s really a lot of fun.”

Dean Mell, a spry 86-year-old, was rolling would-be bowling balls down one of six lanes in search of strikes. His partner was first-grader Clayton Burnside. Both wore wide smiles as they took turns rolling the ball toward the triangle of pins.

“It’s wonderful,” said Mell. “To be here with these children, we don’t get that chance much anymore. My kids are all grown up and live far away. This is just a great opportunity and is so much fun. The kids are polite and caring. They are just great.”

Burnside was having a great time too.

“This is fun,” he exclaimed as he knocked down all the pins for a strike. “But the most fun is playing with this guy (Mell). I like bowling with him.”

At the far end of the gym, 97-year-old Ray Bailey and kindergartner Corbin Hager — both in wheelchairs — were giving the game their best shot.

“Corbin and I like bowling,” said Bailey with a wide grin. “We had a race in our wheelchairs, and he won! What can I say, I am in my third childhood. This has been so much fun. Heck, I even got a strike.”

Price said she is looking forward to doing it again next year.

“It’s all about staying active,” Bricka said. “I am a big proponent of getting kids involved. They have a lot of fun when they come out to our place.”

Pictured: Vince Richardson / Skagit Valley Herald Dean Mell, 86, and his bowling partner, first-grader Clayton Burnside, reset the pins following Clayton’s turn. Students enrolled in the Life Skills class at Sedro-Woolley’s Evergreen Elementary School welcomed the residents of Country Meadow Village to take part in their physical education class.