Pioneer Trail Students Brighten up Bingo at Castleparke Home

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JEFFERSON CITY - A few years ago Pioneer Trail Elementary School opened up in Jefferson City, next to some older neighbors. School counselor Ruthie Eichholz wanted to partner with the Castleparke Assisted Living facility just next door to enrich the lives of both her students and the residents.

Eichholz said the school started by writing letters to an assigned resident at the facility, but the next year found a better way to build their relationship.

The kids started visiting Castleparke every Wednesday and joined them in their game of Bingo.

"I think it's wonderful, they are so much fun," said Castlepark resident Sally Herigon. "They are so energetic, they make me feel alive again."

Eichholz walks with one of the 25 elementary school classes from Pioneer Trail to the center every Wednesday for the game. The number of classes works out so that each class gets to visit Castleparke at least once every school year.

"I had like four ways to win and I was like please just call these numbers...They're fun to play with," said 2nd grade student Tomisaac Johnson about his day at Castleparke.

"Students have the opportunity to see how they can contribute back to the community," Eichholz said. "Playing a game isn't always about winning it's just about having fun with your classmates and with other people, with your neighbors."

"It breaks the monotony of not having anything to do," Hergon said.

The kiddos get more than a Bingo game out of their trip too.

"Learning a lot about people in general and just how to be kind and respectful citizens," Eichholz said.

"You have to be responsible to people and respectful to people," said 2nd grade student Arya Ahmed.

Eichholz plans to keep the weekly tradition going next year as well.

"I think it gives the kids an opportunity to see what the older generation enjoys doing," she said. "People of all ages love to play Bingo."