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The Villa at Riverwood

Adopt a Grandparent

December 18, 2018

Adopt a Grandparent

The UMSL women's basketball team is proving that you can have family wherever you are.

For the third straight year, the Triton players and their coaches have partnered with the Villa at Riverwood, an independent senior living community, where several of the Villa seniors are serving as grandparents.

"It's a two-way street," said Associate Head Coach Emily Samuelson, who brought forth the idea of teaming the players and seniors. "A lot of the senior citizens at Villa don't have family in the area and it's the same with a lot of our players who are here from out of state or even out of the country."

Senior guard Kaitlynn Henning, who is from Charlestown, Ind., a four-hour drive from campus, echoes that sentiment. "Not being from this area and not having family nearby, it's a great way for us to be a part of the community and gives us the opportunity to have a close knit bond with someone who is."

The idea of adopting a grandparent is something Samuelson brought with her from her time as an assistant coach at Franklin College.  She connected with the Villa at Riverwood's Lifestyles 360 Director Kelly Anderson and put the plan into action. Anderson immediately loved the idea and had each player and coach write a short bio on themselves and was able to find connections between the players and the residents and began pairing them up.

"I love the intergenerational activities," said Anderson. "The seniors get energy from the young people, but they can also share their wisdom and their past with the girls as well. I think it's just been rewarding for both sides."

The team visits their grandparents each month. They do crafts together, have game nights and sometimes just spent 30 minutes talking to each other. The grandparents also make it to see their granddaughters play and coach. They were in attendance earlier this season when UMSL defeated Kentucky State and will be back in stands next Wednesday in the game against Oakland City.

"It's really neat to have them in the stands because it's like we have our own little fan base," said Henning. "And it's great because you can see the happiness it brings them in being able to come watch us play."