Project Alice: students connect with seniors

Junior+Raquel+Kanalz+with+gifts+collected+from+students+who+participated+in+Project+Alice.

Raquel Kanalz

Junior Raquel Kanalz with gifts collected from students who participated in Project Alice.

Kamryn Daub, Plaid Truth Staff

Project Alice was created by junior Raquel Kanalz as a part of the Citizen Scholarship Institute (CSI) program. For her project, Kanalz collected homemade gifts and letters from March 8th to 11th that were made by students and are being sent to senior citizens at Park Vista Senior Living Center as a way to brighten their day during these dark times.

To have the opportunity to participate in the CSI program, students have to meet certain requirements. Under this program, students take charge of their own project that helps them become a civic leader.

Kanalz’s project is named after senior citizen Alice, who Kanalz met while volunteering at Park Vista Senior Living Center. Alice was quiet and didn’t participate in the arts and crafts activities until Kanalz was successful in encouraging her. Ever since that day whenever Kanalz went to volunteer at the Senior Center, she went to help Alice.

Inspired by her special bond with Alice, Kanalz decided to do her CSI project centering around Alice and the other senior citizens. “I really wanted students to experience that same connection to the senior citizens that I did with Alice,” Kanalz said.

Originally, Kanalz’s vision for this project was for students to go meet the senior citizens at Park Vista and do activities with them. However, COVID forced Kanalz to change her already approved project. Unfortunately, Alice passed away shortly after lockdown had started. Kanalz still wanted to do her project for the senior citizens, so she did the project in memory of Alice.

The purpose of Project Alice was to help senior citizens through this tough time by giving them a special gift from a student. Kanalz also requested that the students write a letter along with their gift to let the senior citizens know the students care and are thinking about them.

One of these students, junior Grant Deleon, decided to participate in Kanalz’s project by making a traditional Japanese art-inspired watercolor painting. “I wanted someone to look at my picture and feel like they got a breath of fresh air,” Deleon said. It really shows how much can make a difference in someone’s life.

Kanalz was able to spread the word to other schools about her project, getting not only Royal students to participate. Sinaloa, Hillside, and Valley View Middle Schools all participated, along with Simi Valley and Santa Susana High Schools. A youth group called Baha’i Faith was also involved.

Gifts are a simple way to help our senior citizens feel more loved, and the letters a way to help them feel more connected to someone, especially during this time