Building a Stronger Community Through Intergenerational Programs
The Benefits of Intergenerational Programming
Over the past twenty years there has been a growing amount of literature and research which identifies a trend in which younger people and older senior adults are becoming more and more separated in terms of living arrangements and social, recreational outlets. As of 2009 there were almost 40 million American’s over the age of 65. With seniors being forced to work longer into their “twilight years” and younger children being forced into Day Care and “latch key” situations, due to working parents and divided homes, has further served to isolate our nations elders from other age groups. Likewise children who are in need of building relationships and receiving guidance from older adults find less and less opportunity to experience these relationships.
The National Council on Aging defines “intergenerational programs” as “activities or programs that increase cooperation, interaction or exchange between any two generations. They involve the sharing of skills, knowledge, or experience between old and young.” Intergenerational programs are designed to create meaningful relationships and experiences with seniors and young people, with the purpose of building community and developing relationships that last a lifetime.
Shared study is developmentally appropriate for all ages. Tasks like cutting and pasting builds fine motor skills for preschoolers and maintains fine motor skills for residents. In a recent project of Collage Creation, residents assisted 6-10 year olds in building collages that represent their interests. While cutting and pasting, older residents are able to share stories from their past, represented in the pictures. These shared stories are important for young children. Children learn to articulate their thoughts, listen and share memories of their own, as they cut, paste and search for pictures. This type of activity is excellent for memory stimulation in older adults. It doesn’t just connect generations but it’s “down-right fun!” as, Ellie, one of our residents explains.
The development of intergenerational opportunities that mix diverse age groups is a step to re-build strong communities as well as respect and love for young and old. Furthermore, intergenerational programs have been found to diminish ageist stereotypes, strengthen communities, and lead to improved services
Article provided by
Kerrie Huber, Director
The Heights at Columbia Knoll