MATTHEWS – Matheus Sadovsky is one of two students serving as youth voice members on the Matthews Planning Board. He’s using his voice to improve the wellbeing of teenagers and senior citizens in town.
Matheus had to do a project as part of his commitment to being a youth voice. He created a concept, dubbed Retirement Buddies, in which teens are paired with senior citizens in retirement communities.
The program requires students have an old-fashioned conversation with no interruptions or smartphones. Matheus reasons that face-to-face interactions better define who we are and help us become better people.
“I’ve always noticed how senior citizens always want to talk to the young people,” Matheus said. “The teens get a ton of benefits, from as much as volunteering to the greater benefit of creating a lifelong relationship with somebody.”
He got such great feedback from the idea that he decided to advance the program, launching it at ACTS Plantation Estates. The program began in December with five pairs of teens and retirees.
Butler sophomore Ceyana Young was among that first group of teens. She had been friends with Matheus for a long time and figured this was a great opportunity to do something unique.
Matheus said Ceyana has become a poster child for the program, because she has become such good friends with her retiree. Ceyana has met with her Retirement Buddy, Anne Rutherford, at least five times.
Rutherford has cherished the experience. She has three children and five grandchildren, one of which is just a little younger than Ceyana. Being a retired teacher, she asks Ceyana about what it’s like attending Butler.
The program gives Rutherford an opportunity to learn more about Matthews, since she’s only lived here for five months. In turn, Ceyana is learning about senior living and the people involved with it.
“We’re really developing a friendship,” Rutherford said, “so it’s been a very positive experience for me and I think for her, as well.”
Peyton Gates and Matheus Sadovsky serve as youth voice members of the Matthews Planning Board. Both represent youth at planning board and town commissioner meetings. “I’ve learned a lot from them and how the adult life is and how things are done in the town,” Matheus said.