Reply – Pens Across the Northland program forges cross-generational links with ink
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Pens Across the Northland program forges cross-generational links with ink
— by NSCJournal NSCJournal
Photos by JILL TOYOSHIBA, The Kansas City Star

Special to The Star
It was a birthday party, an end-of-the-school-year celebration and the first face-to-face meeting of pen pals at the Northland Shepherd’s Center on May 13.

Fifth-graders from St. Patrick School were there to meet their pen pals in person, entertain them with a skit and a song, and share cupcakes, pizza and ice cream floats.

The pen pals also discovered that they shared many hobbies and interests despite the decades difference in their ages.

“We both played basketball, and we like sports and music,” said fifth-grader Bri Chirpich about her 90-year-old pen pal, Mary Catherine Gibbs of North Kansas City.

Bri and 19 of her classmates exchanged correspondence with a group of seniors in Pens Across the Northland, a program introduced in January as part of the Northland Shepherd’s Center’s 25th anniversary celebration. Many of those involved are older than 65, though some members are in their 50s and early 60s.

Writing letters gave those who had lived through many decades a chance to recount their experiences and memories, and it connected 10- and 11-year-old youngsters with an older generation. The pen pal program is one of the activities at the center’s Learning & Laughter club, which meets on the second and fourth Wednesdays of every month.

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