Students from Elms College and Holyoke Catholic High School Create Indoor Walking Course at Holyoke Soldiers’ Home

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Ribbon cutting ceremony to be held May 14.

Left to right: Emmelene Demers, Jennifer Killion, Christina Bletz, Debra Tomaszewski, Aimee Perreault and Cara Martin.

“We wanted to create something that would improve their lives,” said nursing student Cara Martin. “The residents do a lot of stationery activities and we wanted something that would get them moving and motivated.”

Students from the Elms College community nursing class and Holyoke Catholic High School art classes have joined forces to create an indoor walking course for residents of the Soldiers’ Home in Holyoke, Mass. A ribbon cutting ceremony will be held at 10 a.m., May 14 at the Soldiers’ Home.

Elms nursing students designed and will maintain the course, while Holyoke Catholic art students created the artwork that covers the walls throughout the 1/16-mile course, located in the basement of the Soldiers’ Home at 110 Cherry Street in Holyoke. As part of their required community-based nursing project, five Elms College senior nursing majors—Christina Bletz, Emmelene Demers, Jennifer Killion, Cara Martin and Aimee Perreault—worked with Soldiers’ Home Director of Nursing Pam Quirk to determine the needs of the veteran residents.

“We wanted to create something that would improve their lives,” said nursing student Cara Martin. “The residents do a lot of stationery activities and we wanted something that would get them moving and motivated.”

Most of the residents of the assisted living wing of the home are veterans of World War II. When the students surveyed the residents, it was determined that the course would be designed to reflect American landmarks.

“My students created murals of the Statue of Liberty, the Texas plains, the Golden Gate Bridge and 13 other landmarks that the residents said they would like to feel like they are walking by,” said Jacqueline Boudreau-Kinsey, who teaches the Holyoke Catholic High School basic, intermediate and advanced art classes. The school donated all the supplies required to complete construction of the course.

Members of future Elms College community nursing classes will continue to maintain the course and develop a comprehensive walking regimen for residents. The class is taught by Christine Schrauf, Ph.D., and the faculty advisor for this year’s project was Debra Tomaszewski, BSN, RN.

Elms College is a co-educational, Catholic college offering a liberal arts curriculum that gives students multiple perspectives on life. Founded in 1928 by the Sisters of St. Joseph, Elms College has a tradition of educating reflective, principled, and creative learners, who are rooted in faith, educated in mind, compassionate in heart, responsive to civic and social obligations, and capable of adjusting to change without compromising principle.

Holyoke Catholic High School is a diverse community dedicated to Gospel values within an environment rich in Catholic faith and tradition. Committed to academic excellence, Holyoke Catholic fosters the development of the whole person, encourages individual talents, and promotes service, justice and peace in the world.

Established in 1952, The Soldiers' Home in Holyoke is a multifaceted health care facility available to eligible veterans of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. In 1971, a major addition was completed providing limited hospital services and additional long-term care beds. The Soldiers' Home in Holyoke is governed by a seven-member Board of Trustees comprised of Western Massachusetts residents who are appointed by the Governor to oversee management of the organization. The Soldiers' Home in Holyoke is fully accredited by the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO), and inspected annually by the Veterans Administration. The home’s mission is to provide the best health care possible with available resources to eligible veterans who reside in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

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