EAST HARLEM — Students at an East Harlem school are using their music lessons to entertain local seniors.
The third to fifth graders who sing in the mixed chorus of the Central Park East Elementary School walked to the nearby Carter Burden Center for Aging/Leonard Covello Senior Program on 109th Street between First and Second Avenues last week to perform.
The children were connected to the center by Concerts in Motion, a seven-year-old nonprofit that uses music to establish community bonds and fight isolation for the elderly and the homebound.
“The goal [of this concert] is for the kids to have some interactions with the seniors and for the seniors not to feel disenfranchised from the youth in their community,” said Jennifer Finn, an opera singer and the founder of Concerts in Motion.
It is important that the senior center be at a walking distance from the school, Finn explained, not only because it makes the school trip easier to organize but also because the children and the elderly are more likely to meet again in their neighborhood.
The broader goal is to foster long-term relationships between two populations who can learn a lot from each other, Finn said.
Roughly 70 senior center attendees clapped in rhythm as the choir struck up a dozen songs like Ring in The New Year, This Land is Your Land and We Shall Overcome.
Kris Allen, 74, called the free concert "fabulous" and said it brought back many childhood memories of when she joined her school's glee club more 50 years ago.
“This is also good for those of us who don’t have children around us all the time, to hear and see them." she said. "It brings a lot of joy."
So far, Concerts in Motion has connected roughly 30 schools with their local senior centers in all boroughs expect Staten Island.
If you want to connect your local school with your local senior center or vice versa, email firstname.lastname@example.org.