Intergenerational activities provide vitality for young and old
They don't stop at Scout troop songfests, "Adopt-A-Grandparent" programs, and preschooler visits. Some long term care facilities successfully integrate generations through onsite programs including daycare, afterschool programs, and high school classes. Others encourage older volunteers (young professionals and families), expanding the "intergenerational" concept to include all generations, not just the extremes.
It takes more than child's play to implement successful programs, but the benefits are substantial.
For elders, interacting with young children, or observing them, offers a lost pleasure, entertaining diversion, and excuse to participate in activities that might seem otherwise childish. Teenagers' vitality--and the presence of young men--can energize activities from public service projects to Senior Proms. Guiding and nurturing younger generations also reaffirms elders' sense of self-worth, purpose, and ability to influence the community and the future.
Benefits may go further, children not only blossom with individual attention; they learn about aging, illness, and long term care. That can pay off personally and publicly.
"We need their votes," says Robyn McBroom, intergenerational coordinator for Lifelink, a Bensenville, Ill., health and human services organization including multilevel housing and a nursing facility. "Most children today are isolated from aging and the need for care."
Fort Collins, Colo-based freelancer Wendy L. Bonifazi is a regular contributor to CLTC.
Lifelink, founded as an "orphanage and old folks' home" …