Take Oak Street to Old Nahant, cross Farm Street and head up the hill on Hemlock Road and you'll find a group of Northeast Metro Tech students, a couple generations younger, who have come to know those Dutton Center clients and have grown to appreciate their experiences. And the feeling is mutual.Students in Registered Nurse Maureen McNamara's freshman health career classes at the Voke have been visiting with the Dutton clients on Tuesdays and Thursdays each day during the school year.

McNamara said, "The program has generated so much interest that nearly 20 freshman have committed to the healthcare program this year and three of them are boys."

Students in the program work with the Dutton Center clients as part of their curriculum. They assist with exercise activities, lead the clients in games of horseshoes, beanbag toss and word games among other activities.

A former student of the program, Melisa Whitlow, formerly of Malden, a 2002 graduate of Northeast Metro Tech is now on staff at the Dutton Center.

As an activities assistant, Whitlow leads breakout groups in with clients with Alzheimer's disease in reminiscence activities, arts and crafts and even bingo, trivia and Boggle games.

She has been employed at the Dutton Center for a year and hopes to become a registered nurse when she continues with her higher education.

The enthusiasm from the students to the clients and the staffers is contagious.

Dutton Center director and Stephen Brennan, RNBS, said, "I can't believe I get to come to work here every day. It's just such and amazing program."

The program, a blended program which focuses mostly on the elderly, but has clients in their late 40s, is designed to promote independence and positive thinking. Caregivers promote wellness in a therapeutic environment and encourage self-esteem.

"[A Hallmark Health program,] we have all the resources and accommodations of two major hospitals, including labs, physical therapy and occupational therapy," said Brennan who said the Dutton Center is associated with Melrose-Wakefield and Lawrence Memorial hospitals.

On the day the Observer visited, students from McNamara's Thursday group performed a fashion show. Each students strutted their stuff down a makeshift runway created with rows of chairs occupied by clients and staff on either side. The students modeled their newly chosen scrubs in two tones of blue. They paraded individually, stopped to strike a pose in casual clothing and closed the show with examples of their ideas of dressy clothing, while McNamara narrated the show for the Dutton clients.

The glee on the faces of the clients was matched only by the sheer pleasure on the faces of the students as they modeled their own clothing for their audience. Clients applauded after each student walked the runway and "oohed" and "ahhed" as the students were presented with bouquets of flowers at the show's conclusion.

For information on the Dutton Center Adult Day Health and Social Day programs, call 781-246-2820 or visit www.hallmarkhealth.org.

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