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Generations join forces for an early Halloween celebration

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By Deborah Swearingen

Splish, splash, they were takin’ a bath ....

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Students at Primrose School of Bear Creek joined forces with seniors at Willowbrook Place last Thursday for an early Halloween celebration. Together, they fashioned bubble bath costumes out of trash bags, balloons and shower caps decorated with rubber ducks and other bath toys.

“So cute,” Jackie Liles, a resident at Willowbrook Place, said with a smile as she helped tape blue and white balloons onto some of the youngsters.

For several minutes, the South Jeffco memory care facility experienced a bit of organized chaos with preschoolers running around and balloons flying through the air. But there also was a lot of joy in the air, and smiles covered the faces of residents and students alike.

Bringing the two generations together is beneficial for all, but perhaps particularly so for the memory care facility residents. According to Lori Closs, executive director at Willowbrook Place, events such as last Thursday’s costume-making party can help bridge the memory gap for those with dementia and Alzheimer’s.

“It really brings back that memory of maybe doing it themselves or definitely doing it with their kids,” Closs said.

It is always a happy day at Willowbrook Place when Primrose School of Bear Creek comes to visit.

“They’re smiling. They’re excited,” Closs said, looking out at the group gathered for the event.

Many have families that live elsewhere, so events like this provide an opportunity for them to interact with kids.

“They still get that children connection,” Closs said.

It’s not the first time the two entities have come together for events, and it won’t be the last considering Lynn Peterson, the assistant director at Primrose, has a mother living at the South Jeffco memory care facility. Peterson worked with Michael Porterfield, activities director at Willowbrook, to coordinate the first joint event earlier this summer, and the pair plans to continue hosting events, turning several into annual traditions.

After the costumes were complete, the Primrose students made their way to the front of the gathering room at Willowbrook Place to show off their sudsy look. The kiddos danced to “Splish Splash,” and Ron Mackey, Willowbrook’s resident dance lover, quickly joined in, shimmying, shaking and clapping along with the music.

When the dancing concluded, the students then “trick or treated,” making their way through the line of Willowbrook Place residents to grab treat bags spilling over with Halloween candy.

Contact reporter Deborah Swearingen at dswearingen@evergreenco.com or 303-350-1042. Follow her on Twitter @djswearingen.