Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Opportunity Neighborhood - Creative Program Ideas

(PHOTO: Little Brothers of Minnesota) NEST
(Neighbors Embracing Seniors Together) is a new initiative
by Little Brothers
EDITOR'S NOTE: Each week, we'll feature intergenerational program ideas that were tried and successful. This new series is a tool to highlight various age-intentional 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.

Since 2012, Opportunity Neighborhood - of New Brighton, Minnesota - and Little Brothers - Friends of the Elderly have been partnering to build social connections and fight isolation through fun informal events that bring large groups of youth and older adults together. 

Participating K-12th grade youth are from an after-school program Opportunity Neighborhood provides at Ames Lake Neighborhood, an affordable housing community in St. Paul. The older adults are identified through Little Brothers Friends of the Elderly outreach program that serves both Minneapolis and St. Paul.

Events are fun and open doors for friendships to begin. Youth and older adults are paired up at tables to play games, create crafts or play BINGO.

Social gatherings like this have shown to increase happiness and improve health in older adults. While in youth they have revealed improved educational learning and self-image.

In addition to these events, youth create crafts monthly for Little Brothers Friends of the Elderly’s Friendship and Flowers care packages program that are delivered to homebound seniors. 

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Poetry with Preschoolers and Elders

(PHOTO: Michael Hagedorn) ACE Preschool and New York 
Memory Center performing poetry
EDITOR'S NOTE: This blog post and photo appear courtesy of Gary Glazner, founder of the Alzheimer's Poetry Project

One of the absolute delights of working with the Alzheimer’s Poetry Project is bringing preschool students together with elders living with memory loss to perform and create poems.

Since 2012, I have been working with ACE Preschool and New York Memory Center (NYMC) in Brooklyn. Last year’s class performed poetry at the ACE Preschool graduation ceremony. (See performance)

I teach the young knowledge seekers to perform poetry. After they learn a poem, we then go downstairs to meet our neighbors at the NYMC.

Now when I arrive to do a session, the people who are navigating memory loss will ask me, “Where are the kids? Go get the kids!” These are people living with Alzheimer’s disease who so strongly remember the students’ visits that they say to me, “Don’t come without the kids!”

Here is a poetry lesson idea in the form of a recipe. It is adapted from my upcoming book, Dementia Arts: Celebrating Creativity in Elder Care (Health Professionals Press).

Recipe
Tio Gary’s Old-Timey Word Game

Ingredients:
2 hands
1 happy face
1 big mouth

Instructions:
This is a poem, or as we often say, when working with preschool kids, a game with words. It is a simple lesson on saying “hello.” Begin by saying: “We are going to play a game. I am going to say a word and I want you to say what I say. I say ‘it’! You say ‘it’! Ready? Please let me see your eyes when you are ready. Look at me so I know you are listening and ready. Good! Good! I say ‘it,’ then you say ‘it.’ Here we go.” We perform the poem using a “call and response” method, where the session leaders say a word or line of poetry and have the group echo it back.

At a certain point in every class with preschool kids I say, “cheese burger.”

For some reason this makes everyone laugh. At various times throughout the performance of the “Hello” poem, I will blast in with a hearty shout of “cheese burger!” Or I will growl or howl “cheese burger” like a dog.

Here’s the “Hello” poem:

Hello
Gary Glazner

It’s time to say hello!
hello, hello, hello, hello, hello, hello.

These are my hands
that wave in the air!

These are my hands
that point to the sky!

These are my hands
I wave them high!

hello, hello, hello, hello, hello, hello.

hello, hello, hello, hello, hello, hello.

These are my hands
that wave in the air!

These are my hands
that point to the sky!

These are my hands
I wave them high!

hello, hello, hello, hello, hello, hello.

hello, hello, hello, hello, hello, hello.

Good morning, everybody!
It’s a good, good day!

hello, hello, hello, hello, hello, hello.


Writers of all ages are invited to submit guest posts on intergenerational issues to our Together Blog. Here are the submission guidelines.

Young People Changing the World

(Photo: iStockphoto.com/mangostock)
Grace Chen developed two critical skills while teaching older adults how to use new technology. Duncan McDonell had a break-through with an older student during an art class. Aaron Smothers learned an important lesson while documenting seniors.

All three -- under the age of 25 -- are not only recipients of our Youth Jumpstart Grants, but they’re also among the millions of youth improving their communities every day through service.

Youth advocates and mentors will celebrate those efforts this weekend as part of Global Youth Service Day (GYSD) 2014, the only day of service dedicated to children and youth.

During that time, young people around the world will engage in work with schools, youth organizations, nonprofits, community and faith-based organizations, national service programs, government agencies and adult mentors.

Established in 1988, GYSD is the largest service event in the world, with celebrations each year in more than 135 countries.

(Artwork: www.volunteerhr.org)
The Washington, D.C., celebration kicks off today with the 25th Annual National Service-Learning Conference, co-hosted by the National Youth Leadership Council and Youth Service America (YSA).

In honoring this annual event, we're highlighting a few young who addressed critical issues and changed their communities.

As part of the C & T Youth Technology Academy in Rockville, Maryland, Grace Chen was part of a project where she and her peers tutored older adults on how to surf the web, check e-mail, and operate cellphones, digital cameras and tablets.

She developed two important skills: the first being patience. “As a high school student who is constantly balancing school work and extra-curricular activities, I never need to slow down or wait,” Chen explained.

Life at the Ring House senior living facility, however, moved at a pace slower than what she was initially used to until she caught on.

“When I began conversing with the residents, I found myself wanting to slow down, becoming more patient,” noted Chen, whose group also assisted the residents with memoir writing. “It was…[a] skill that I realized could be applied to my life outside of the Ring House.”

Patricia and Duncan
She also developed solution-based approaches to challenges.

“When teaching some of the residents new technologies, it was easy to become frustrated,” Chen explained, recalling a day when the older adults struggled to click the left mouse button.  

When the residents grew anxious about their inabilities, the young tutor changed the direction of the conversation.

“At that point,” Chen noted, “we began to talk them through the steps, taking their mind off the difficulties.”

Duncan McDonell had a similar break-through with an older student during his art class at the Institute On Aging (IOA). (Read Duncan's blog post, Art as a Tool for Intergenerational Communication)

“I once taught a man named LiBorio who seemed to be very unresponsive while being taught,” McDonell recalled. “He didn’t want to paint, and he hardly spoke in class.”

But overtime, LiBorio came around and eventually painted a breathtaking nature scene and called McDonell’s name, which surprised everyone.

“What happened next was even better,” the art teacher explained. “LiBorio shook my hand and thanked me humbly and, after this kind gesture, he said, ‘I hope I see you soon, Duncan.’”

That experience showed McDonell first-hand the benefits of young and old working together.

Duncan's programming
“I realized what a powerful tool art can be and how it can be a wonderful aid for communication,” McDonell recalled. “I also found that one should never judge anyone, especially a senior, by first impressions.”

Aaron Smothers' time with the City-Wide Resident Council was just as enlightening.

In that project, based in St. Paul, Minnesota, Smothers and his peers explored the history of Roosevelt Community Homes, a 314-unit public housing community that built in 1952, through discussions with seniors and a video project that took 2nd place at a community film festival.

Young and old “taking the time to work together and learn from each other,” Smothers recalled, “was amazing to watch.”

He appreciated the opportunity to work with the Saint Paul Public Housing Agency and the Saint Paul Neighborhood Network (SPNN).

Part of the program’s requirements included Smothers and his peers taking a seven-week media course over the summer to learn videography.

The experience taught him something else.

 “I learned that a big part of helping [to] close the digital divide as well as the cultural divide,” Smothers explained, “lies in both sides of the age spectrum.” 

Thursday, April 03, 2014

Requesting Families

We are seeking families to profile for two sidebars for our signature report, 2014 Families in Society, that celebrates strong families. We'll release our report in partnership with the Alliance for Children and Families in time to mark the 20th anniversary of the International Year of the Family (2014) at an event on May 13 at the National Press Club.

The first family we're hoping to identify is a Hispanic/Latino family with strong intergenerational connections. We're interested in what motivates their connections, what helps and what woulc help them have even stronger connections.

The second family we're hoping to identify is a middle-income family with strong intergenerational connections. We're interested in how they exchange money and/or time across generations, what motivates that and what would help them be able to invest even more money and/or time in each other. We're also interested in how that family uses technology and if it enhances their exchange of time and/or money.

If you know of any such family and could pass along their names and contact information to Generations United's Communication Specialist Alan King, we would be very grateful.

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

What is a Program of Distinction designation and why is it so important?

When we started the Program of Distinction designation in 2010, we thought it was important to recognize excellence while celebrating the rich diversity among intergenerational programs. 

That year, we recognized six programs: Kinship Care Resource Center, SMART (Students and Mature Adults Read Together) and Reading Buddies After School, St. Ann Center for Intergenerational Care, United Retirement Center/Avera, and Workforce Academy for Youth.

The designation, which is active for 3 years and then must be renewed, serves as the only U.S. benchmark for intergenerational programs based on the criteria that underpin the effectiveness of any intergenerational program.

Since the inaugural award year, we have recognized 11 other programs with this elite national recognition.

Why is this recognition important for the designees?

In our recent follow up with the inaugural winners, this is what they said about the designation and the process of completing the application:

·         gave them national legitimacy – something they did not have before
·         helped them secure new funding
·         allowed them to realize they had statistics and data that helped contextualize their work and demonstrate impact
·         resulted in them increasing their intergenerational staff – with more understanding of why intergenerational programs are critical to their organization and the community
·         demonstrated they were part of a larger network – adding credibility
·         outlined areas that could be improved to provide even stronger and more impactful programming.

In addition to the designation logo for use with promotional materials, added benefits of becoming a Program of Distinction include national recognition through our premier listing on our website and priority inclusion in Generations United’s trainings, publications and resources.

Consider becoming a Program of Distinction and being a part of this elite group.

Please complete the short pre-application checklist to see if your program qualifies, then download and complete the application.  The deadline is May 1, 2014.

Friday, March 28, 2014

My Adventure to Capitol Hill

(l-r: Asa Gurney, Bob Simon,
and Ashley Gurney)
EDITOR’S NOTE: This guest post appears courtesy of 8-year-old Ashley Gurney, who joined us Tuesday for the Best Intergenerational Communities recognition event at Cannon House Building. The photo is courtesy of the Gurney Family.

I woke up at 6:30 a.m. We got in the car it was a long ride to the city. We are at National Association of Counties (NACO).

There are 22 people and Bob Simon was there. And there are actually 25 people because a few came in late. I met a girl named Hayley and she was 17 years old. Hayley and my brother were in my group. We learned a lot about each other. We are going to get a cab and go to Capitol Hill.

We arrived at Capitol Hill. We went through security and the woman in front of us had to go back and it was her bracelet.

There are 3 people taking pictures including me. Eight people went to speak.

I learned a lot and it makes me feel like I like our country even more because they got an award.

Hayley and Jessica spoke and they were kind of funny. Bob Simon was about to go up to speak.

On our way to lunch, we went under the building I thought it was the sewers but it was a hallway and I kind of screamed when I said it.

We saw the Old Senate Chamber and Senator Charles Sumner almost died.  He did not want slavery and other Senators got their canes out and beat him up really badly in 1856 because they wanted slavery.

We saw the members of the House of Representatives vote on a bill. And more people voted “nay” which means no and less people voted “yea” which means yes. So the bill did not pass.

We did not know if it was snowing because we did not look out the window.

And it was an awesome day!