Marilyn’s Lifelong Educational Center at Birchaven Village is familiar with the joy that results from bringing together senior adults and young children through their Intergenerational Preschool. Since the creation of Paw Paw Art’s Musical Tulip Garden this spring, that joy has an all new sound. Constructed with donations from the family of Arthur “Paw Paw” Prigge, a former Birchaven resident, the garden contains things that brought him joy—tulips, musical instruments, and tiny hands at play.
Marilyn’s Lifelong Educational Center, located within Birchaven Retirement Village since 2004, engages preschoolers in daily activities with Birchaven residents in a relaxed, family-type atmosphere. The program benefits both the children and the senior residents, who develop important friendships.
Meet Paw Paw Art
One senior resident Arthur Prigge, nicknamed “Paw Paw Art” by the children, participated in the Intergenerational Preschool program from August 2009 until he passed away, at age 90, in May 2015. Throughout his life, Mr. Prigge shared his love of music with others.
Mr. Prigge loved being a “grandfriend” to the children at Marilyn’s Lifelong Educational Center. According to his daughter, Donna Leonard, her father’s participation with the children was “life-changing,” and brought him “elation like I’ve never seen before.”
Upon his passing, Mr. Prigge’s children wanted to give back in gratitude for the years of joy the program provided for their father. Because music had been so important to him, and because he came to love tulips during his high school years in Holland, Michigan, they decided a fitting tribute would be a garden teeming with both.
On the afternoon of the dedication ceremony for Paw Paw Art’s Musical Tulip Garden, dozens of children, parents, teachers, and grandfriends gathered in the garden, many with child-sized instruments. A mural by artist Ginny Blair brightens the fence. The children sang a song remembering Paw Paw Art, “You Are my Sunshine,” and released balloons into the breeze. It reminded everyone gathered that although life’s joys may be temporary, they are no less beautiful.
For More Information:
An open house at
Marilyn’s Lifelong Educational Center Intergenerational Preschool
is scheduled for 6-7pm Oct. 5, but applications are accepted year round.
MLLEC accepts children 6 weeks to 5-years-old, full or part-time.
Open year round, 5:45am to 6pm Monday-Friday.
Employees of Birchaven or Blanchard Valley Health Association
receive a 10 percent discount.
For more information or to schedule a personal tour,
call Melissa Gossman 419-425-3049.