Relationships are one of the critical ingredients in our happiness and wellbeing—bonding not only with partners and peers, but also with those spanning different ages.
Thirty-two Chaminade nursing students did just that by connecting with kūpuna through Purpose Pals, a pilot program designed to foster friendships across generations through the click of a mouse.
“The biggest takeaway from our talks was that I don’t know everything there is to life,” says freshman Kaylen Fernandez. “My kūpuna gave valuable advice in balancing work-life, and the importance of enjoying what you do. If you don’t love it, then it’s time for a change.”
Engaging across generations, benefits kūpuna and helps students learn and grow as healthcare professionals.
“This experience provides the nursing students with a more positive attitude toward aging,” says Purpose Pal organizer Dr. Christy Nishita. “In their future careers, many of their patients will be from our oldest age groups. We hope this experience gives them awareness and empathy toward kūpuna that translates to better care.”
Connectedness is important now more than ever, especially since COVID has created social isolation. With an increase of loneliness and stress, Purpose Pals has played a critical role in helping kūpuna stay socially active.
Purpose Pals was made available through a service-learning project in Dr. Edna Magpantay-Monroe’s NUR 200 Introduction to Nursing Concepts course. The project not only provided students with an experiential learning opportunity but also forged meaningful relationships with their kūpuna. Many have been inspired to stay in touch with their pals beyond the commitment of the project.
Students’ participation in the pilot program has provided a number of key insights for Purpose Pal’s development and capacity building. The goal is to continue to attract new volunteers each semester and continue Chaminade’s mission serving the community and being an active participant in it.