Monday, May 02, 2016

The East County Intergenerational Garden

EDITOR’S NOTE: Each week, we feature intergenerational program ideas that were tried and successful. This series is a tool to highlight various age-optimized programs and practices. The program descriptions are provided by representatives of the programs. Inclusion in this series does not imply Generations United’s endorsement or recommendation, but rather encourages ideas to inspire other programs.

This week's cool idea, the East County Intergenerational Garden at Cuyamaca College in California, is an intergenerational gardening program where older adults teach preschoolers how food is grown and develops an appreciation for enjoying healthy eating.

(Check our archives for parts 1-80 | non-archived: 1, 2, 3,4 and 5)

For a few hours each week, seven gardening enthusiasts, ages 60 and older, share a little of their know-how with 60 preschoolers tending a small, practice garden of sorts as they await the installation of a much larger one that the college is calling its Intergenerational Garden.

The children, ages 2-5, participate in this program.
Recently cleared of mountains of mulch and debris that had collected over the years on the vacant site, the 1/3-acre plot between the Child Development Center and the Water Conservation Garden will boast lots of extras, including a nearby amphitheater and a meandering creek bed.

The Child Development Center is a pre-kindergarten day care facility serving both the college and off-campus communities, and is uniquely suited as an onsite lab for students enrolled in the college’s child development program.

A $25,000 grant from the county’s Health and Human Services Agency helped establish the new garden and also pays the $100 monthly stipend for the seniors, affectionately called the “Gardening Grannies” by the center’s young inhabitants.

For the children, ages 2-5, the intent is to teach good nutrition to a population accustomed to diets heavy on processed foods.

For the seniors, it’s a healthy outdoor activity and a rare opportunity to connect with kids.

Got something cool you tried that was successful? Why not tweet your cool intergenerational ideas to #coolideas? You can also post them to our Intergenerational Connections Facebook Group. We want to highlight innovative age-optimized programs and practices through our blog, social media and weekly e-newsletter! Share the inspiration.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Seniors/Volunteers for Childhood Immunization

EDITOR’S NOTE: Each week, we feature intergenerational program ideas that were tried and successful. This series is a tool to highlight various age-optimized programs and practices. The program descriptions are provided by representatives of the programs. Inclusion in this series does not imply Generations United’s endorsement or recommendation, but rather encourages ideas to inspire other programs.

This week's cool idea is one from the past.

Seniors/Volunteers for Childhood Immunization is an intergenerational immunization program based in Texas.

(Check our archives for parts 1-80 | non-archived: 123, 4 and 5)

The Seniors/Volunteers for Childhood Immunization program strives to encourage the timely receipt of immunizations for pre-school aged children in Texas and beyond.

Senior volunteers possess the experience of witnessing the devastating effects of diseases that are now vaccine preventable. 

Their understanding of the critical need for immunizations, coupled with their unique skills, compels them to become devoted advocates to the mission of ensuring the health of the youngest members of their local community.

The program trains older adults to educate new mothers in hospitals or birthing centers about preschool immunization. Consenting mothers are enrolled into a community-based immunization reminder program.

Seniors/Volunteers for Child Immunization also calls or sends cards reminding mothers of their childrens' two, four, six, and twelve month immunizations, and evaluates their success based on official immunization records.

Got something cool you tried that was successful? Post them to our 
Intergenerational Connections Facebook Group. We want to highlight innovative age-optimized programs and practices through our blog, social media and weekly e-newsletter! Share the inspiration.

Friday, March 25, 2016

City of Coral Springs - National Finalist

Intergenerational Olympics
Located in Broward County, the City of Coral Springs is a planned community that offers inviting neighborhoods, a diverse business community, top-rated schools, and beautiful parks.

Applauded for its overall livability, low crime rate, and family-friendly focus, it’s no surprise that Coral Springs is making strides to enhance intergenerational connections for its 127,000+ residents.

Since launching its first intergenerational program in 2009, the City of Coral Springs has developed a number of opportunities for older and younger residents to contribute to the growth and well-being of the community and its residents.

One of the newest programs, for example, engages tech-savvy local high school students as technology instructors to participants at the local senior center.

Florence Killoran, a local elder, enjoyed the six week computer course the teens facilitated.

Intergenerational Computer Class
“The teens taught us how to use our cell phones, computers and so many other electronic items,” she recalled. “At the end of the year, we had an intergenerational barbecue. That was nice to sit and chat with the kids.”

The City of Coral Springs’ 49 parks offer events and projects that intentionally connect the generations, like the Intergenerational Beautification Project.

Now in its third year, the project pairs teams of youth with older adult leaders to work together on outdoor projects to improve the community.

In addition to improving the local landscape and developing a community garden, the project has also served as a collaborative clean-up day to remove litter from neighborhood streets and highways.

Afterwards, youth and older adults enjoy lunch together. The city also recognizes participants of all ages at an award ceremony.

In 2015, the City Commission voted to help fund an intergenerational lecture series in partnership with Nova Southeastern University. Older adults gather with grandchildren and local youth to learn about an array of cultural, social, and educational topics.

They also learn about community-offered research, conservation and training programs.

Intergenerational Chess
Chloe Gouge, a student at Taravella High School, participated in the “Adopt an Elder” program, a mentorship program coordinated by Coral Springs High School that pairs students with elders from the community.

“My own grandparents live far away or are deceased so this was a nice experience for me to connect with older adults,” she explained.

The City of Coral Springs excels at building partnerships across agencies and sectors to achieve its intergenerational focus.

In partnership with the Kiwanis Club, for example, the local police and fire departments coordinate Safety Town, a nationally recognized program for young children to learn valuable lessons about safety. Each summer, the interactive program engages older volunteers in teaching young children about the importance of personal and traffic safety.

The City of Coral Springs partners with Nova Southeastern University, whose professors teach classes at the senior center.
The community prides itself on its commitment to engage all ages.

Intergenerational Clean-Up Day
“The seniors,” according to local elder Florence Killoran, “have done so much with the youth in the community.”

This includes the Senior Crochet Club making blankets for Kids in Distress, a local nonprofit for children who were victims of abuse.

City Commissioner Joy Carter counts this and other intergenerational efforts towards the “good experience of living and working” there.

“I have always been impressed with the City’s approach to their residents’ satisfaction,” she explained. “We have a tremendous volunteer base and a high-minded staff that remains vigilant to find programs that are interactive and supportive toward our citizens.”

To learn more about the City of Coral Springs, visit

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Eastman: Service and Teamwork Across the Lifespan - Best Intergenerational Communities Award Winner

Eastman Community Association started out as a retirement and seasonal recreational community. Now, it's a full-blown intergenerational one with a wonderful blend of all ages.

This shift is due to the economic growth of the Dartmouth-Lake Sunapee Region of New Hampshire. With new jobs came young families who fell in love with the trails and wildlife.

Eastman Community Association describes itself as "a naturally occurring, intergenerational community."

The residents made this intentional shift in 2012, when they enlisted the input of all generations to help create Eastman’s comprehensive strategic plan.

At the top of the list of Eastman Community Association’s strategic priorities is offering programs that foster intergenerational interaction.

During the summer season, Eastman Community Association ran the Peppermint Patty’s snack bar. It provided snacks, lunches and ice cream to the residents and visitors.

The snack bar almost closed in 2012, when the older adult operators decided to retire. A subcommittee of the Recreation Committee developed a plan to save it.

With help from older adult mentors, high school students would run Peppermint Patty’s. The mentors are professionals advising in various roles of operating a restaurant business.

Rachel Berg, a University of New Hampshire student, worked there.

“This offered opportunities for high school students to gain real business experience," she explained.

That experience included the teens meeting weekly with their mentors. They discussed operations and voted one another into a role. Berg’s team voted her for Marketing and Sales.

Another Eastman strategic goal is to encourage all ages to share their talents.

When John Larrabee moved there, he didn’t have time to be “retired.”

The community recruited the former teacher to chair the Lakes and Streams Committee. There, he and other volunteers watched over the 335-acre Eastman Lake.

The Committee started the Youth Conservation Corps (YCC) to tap into volunteers in the community, many of whom were older adults who were interested in introducing local youth to lake ecology.

“Boy did we hit it out of the park,” Larrabee noted. “Parents got involved, volunteers of all ages paired with kids on projects dealing with rain gardens and storm water runoff.”

The youth learned to transplant hostas (a plant species that grows in shade). Those who became experts guided adults new to the experience.

2011 Fashion Show
After the program, YCC members wrote self-growth essays about their experience. The Eastman Living quarterly magazine published those essays. Additionally, YCC members presented their projects to participants at the annual Lake Appreciation Day.

Larrabee enjoyed connected with the youth.

“I have written five college letters of recommendations for YCC kids,” he recalled. “I have become part of the extended family in some cases.”

With a two-mile lake, six beaches, and countless miles of cross-country skiing and hiking trails, the community's shared love of protecting the environment helps bring generations together.

Several line items in the community's annual budget help protect that and other assets. The investments include foundation grants for elders to teach youth how to build boats.

The Community Living Group provided a full-time staff person to work with the community. The Group also budgeted over $90,000 to programs, including intergenerational activities and events.

Other investments helped the community open the 16,000-square-foot South Cove Activity Center in 2009. The building, which replaced an older facility, helps meet Eastman's intergenerational needs.

“There is so much that Eastman offers to every generation,” according to Rachel Berg, the University of New Hampshire student. “I know that when I am finally considered a part of the ‘wiser’ generation, I would be lucky to live somewhere like Eastman.”

Monday, March 21, 2016

Milwaukee: Building Bridges of Understanding that Span the Generations - Best Intergenerational Communities Award Winner

Mosess Intergenerational Dance Performance
Nestled on the coast of Lake Michigan, Milwaukee is a big city with a small town feel, thanks to its unique neighborhoods and engaged residents working to promote quality of life for all ages.

In the early 80's, a 3-year-old girl named Katie helped the community to think intergenerational.

St. Ann Center, which launched on the city’s south side in 1983, initially offered just community-based adult day care for older adult clients in the basement of the Convent of the Sisters of St. Francis of Assisi.

One day, when Katie’s single mom, a St. Ann Center employee, couldn’t find daycare for her daughter, she brought Katie to work.

During the visit, Katie saw a client lapsing into a grand mal seizure. The 3-year-old immediately ran to the shaking man, jumped on his lap and gave him a big hug. And, with Katie’s hug, the man’s symptoms stopped—the seizure never occurred.

St. Ann Center for Intergenerational Care
That’s when St. Ann Center’s intergenerational model of care was born, becoming the first intergenerational shared site of its kind in the nation and setting a strong foundation for a community that embraces the value of all ages and abilities.

Consequently, Milwaukee is now home to a host of intergenerational programs, including two Generations United Programs of Distinction: St. Ann Center for Intergenerational Care and TimeSlips Creative Storytelling.

Through TimeSlips, a program of the Creative Trust Milwaukee, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (UWM) students are trained and partnered with community groups to facilitate storytelling with older adults, many with symptoms of memory loss.

The city’s other intergenerational initiatives include Aged to Perfection (an undergraduate class developed by UWM’s Center for Aging and Translational Research), The Arts at Home (an artist and student team that brings engagement to elders living alone) and Reach Out Reach In (teens develop daily activities for children and older adults).

The Intergenerational Council promotes intergenerational dialogues within and between the races and cultures. This year’s theme, “Turning Points,” encourages adults and youth to discuss key life decisions that affect the future of each individual and the community in which that resident lives.

Toddlers on a mission at Saint Johns on the
Lake Retirement Community
In 2015, The Milwaukee County Commission on Aging and partnering agencies hosted an intergenerational panel discussion and audience talkback in honor of Vel Phillips, the city’s first woman and African American official and judge and Wisconsin’s Secretary of State.

The ethnically and culturally mixed intergenerational panel discussed how the city’s past race relations affect Milwaukee residents today and how all ages can take lessons learned from the past to build a bright future together.

Additionally, Milwaukee, host city for the 2017 Global Intergenerational Conference, showed commitment to creating spaces that connect the generations.

Mayor Tom Barrett noted that “the City’s Villard Square Library project replaced an aging library with a new facility that includes housing for grandparents raising grandchildren.”

Reekaya Free Jenkins, an eighth- grader at Hope Christian School Prima, jumped at the opportunity to join the St. Ann Center Buddy Program, which connects youth (ages 11-15) with older adults suffering from severe developmental and physical disabilities.

“There were many older people I got to know,” she explained. “They were happy they had someone to share what life was like when they were growing up. I learned a lot from their stories. It was like a history lesson, only better. I had fun updating them on what’s happening with kids like me.”

L. Jane Shatto, who retired in 2012, was also inspired to work across the ages.

During her seven years of volunteering at City on a Hill, a nonprofit organization working with central city youth and families, she encountered too many youngsters who struggled with reading.

Interfaith RSVP Tutoring Program
Now, she works with second-graders in the Milwaukee Public Schools through InterFaith Older Adult Programs, which is funded by the Greater Milwaukee Foundation.

“I have seen improvement when additional help, encouragement and support are given,” Shatto noted.

Her rewards include watching a child, who previously struggled, read confidently. “When a child tells me about their latest test scores,” she explained, “or that they are moving to a higher reading group, I feel blessed.”

That and other blessings won over the Posner Foundation, which helped fund intergenerational programming at the Jewish Home and Care Center, where Milwaukee schoolchildren practice reading skills by reading to seniors.

“Many organizations work in our neighborhoods to ensure that people of all ages are able to share their talents and resources with each other,” Mayor Barrett said. “A community flourishes when youth and older adults have an opportunity to share life experiences.”