Seniors Outreach - April 25, 2018

“Somehow we have to get older people back close to growing children if we are to restore a sense of community, a knowledge of the past, and a sense of the future.” ~ Margaret Mead

Intergenerational Programs are social vehicles that offer younger and older generations the opportunities to interact and become engaged in issues concerning our society. These programs purposefully bring together people of different generations in ongoing, mutually beneficial, planned activities, designed to achieve specified program goals. Through intergenerational programs people of all ages share their talents and resources, supporting each other in relationships that benefit both the individuals and the community. Successful programs are based on reciprocity, are sustained and intentional, and involve education and preparation for all ages. Young and old are viewed as assets not problems to be solved.

[ – FACT SHEET: The Benefits of Intergenerational Programs]

Intergenerational programming is a tremendous area to develop. As socialization and interaction become more and more important - attempting to interact, engage and plan time and activities that seniors and youth can get hold of and be involved in will enable, as Margaret Mead’s comment states, restore a sense of community. Most seniors of the past 30-40 years have a strong sense of such community and support. It is time to move back towards that strength!

Perhaps most understandable is that we are all learners and teachers. We all have something to share and to gain from such interactions. As we go through life, it becomes important see that Grandparents and youth (children, grandchildren and great grandchildren) most often have ‘fun’ together, can find out more about new skills and activities, and can share with each other. The importance of an attitude of ‘grace’ between the generations is what is needed to make the intergenerational programming a stronger component of our lives. It will enrich us and truly begin to build a sense of who we really are as people.

Examples of Intergenerational Programs

Young Serving Old: Friendly visiting in homes or senior living facilities; home services; teaching computer skills or English as a second language; and service learning projects such as oral histories.

Older Adults Serving the Young: Mentoring programs; child care centers with older adult staff or volunteers; teen parenting guidance; tutoring and telephone reassurance.

Older Adults and the Young Serving Together: Performing/visual arts programs; family support programs; environmental preservation and community service.

Older Adults and the Young Sharing Sites: Intergenerational community centers; childcare centers in senior housing and senior centers in schools and libraries.

[ – FACT SHEET: The Benefits of Intergenerational Programs]

Some of these examples seem reasonable, some may be a bit of a stretch and some may seem extremely intrusive and impossible. However, as we often say – “Nothing ventured, nothing gained!” Intergenerational programming requires work and ongoing choices on both sides of the fence.

Any ideas? Come along and share them - it might be interesting as to what will work in this area.