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‘They belong With Us’ student-led project focuses on engaging older adults 

Alyssa Tyler editor in chief  

Since the end of September, every week, junior in social work Jordan Eidson has been visiting the elderly community at Guest Home Estates, an assisted living facility in Pittsburg. While there, Eidson focuses on her project, “They Belong With Us,” a chance for the elderly community of Pittsburg to feel a sense of belonging and community.  

“I am focusing on a sense of belonging in the older adults in Pittsburg and it started because of my relationship with my great grandma. I’m really close with her. And she used to be someone by my side all the time, always going somewhere, and then recently in the past, she’s been shut in and it has been difficult to watch. And so, I’m just talking with her and I learned that as we progress and as we age we kind of lose a sense of belonging. And she talked about how she doesn’t recognize her community anymore. She’s grown up there and still lives there and talked about how she doesn’t really recognize it,” Eidson said.  

For the past few months, Eidson has been arriving at the facility every Friday, with an activity of some sort planned for the residents.  

“The activities are focused on building community with each other, building relationships with each other, but also me teaching them skills and them teaching me skills. So less of me going in and just being like, “I’m going to teach you how to do this thing that I love’ and ‘we’re going to do a meaningless craft that you’re not going to care about.’ I want to focus on doing something they find value in,” said Eidson.  

Some activities range from making slime to playing trivia about certain generations. 

“And I learned that they really love talking about what they know,” Eidson said. “I could see their confidence grow. It’s because I was asking trivia questions about like the time of life they lived. Like things that I definitely don’t know,” 

Although Eidson started this project for a class, she plans on continuing to visit the residents of Guest Home Estates. 

“I’ve definitely formed a relationship and I know that it’s going to be something that I continue to go back to,” said Eidson.  

She started this project at the beginning of the semester when they were asked to find a problem in their community.  

“In many ways, first I just have so much more respect for professionals who work with older adults. Because it is emotional and it’s difficult to listen to the concerns that they have. And to listen to what they’re struggling with because it hits you really hard. That’s been difficult, but I think. That they have gotten out of it, as you always hear people say. Like people who get older like they’re humans too, you know. You hear these stories about other people who like just kind of get shut off from society but being able to talk with them and actually see it firsthand has given me a new perspective on this. These are humans, talking louder doesn’t mean talking down and I can still interact with them, and they do understand what I’m saying, even though we’re from different generations,” Eidson said. 

She did this for a social work class that focuses on macro social work theories.  

“So essentially, focusing on our involvement with our communities and so she prompted us all to this community project, we find something more passionate about and then do something about it. It’s an incredibly rewarding process,” Eidson said. 

Eidson also described how this project and process has impacted her future career outside of Pittsburg State University.  

“So, I still have not figured out what area of social work I want to go and do. But the awesome thing About social work, is that You can work an any area and as many areas as you want. Or your career. And so I had a lot of difficulty narrowing it down, but after this project I’ve learned that I am passionate about the lives of older people and so I definitely expect that is something I continue to do after graduation,” said Eidson.  

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