Tuesday, November 18, 2014

K-9 Healers Intergenerational Pet Therapy Project

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.

In part 24 of our series, we feature the K-9 Healers Intergenerational Pet Therapy Project, which is based in Branchport, NY.

(Check our archives for parts 1-23.)

Since 1995 the K-9 Healers Intergenerational Pet Therapy Project or “K-9 Kids” has been a project that brings together youth, residents of the Homestead Long Term Care Facility, and registered Pet Therapy dogs.

Gail Furst founded this program in 1995 with her registered Pet Therapy Boxer, “Rosie”, and one child visiting the Homestead room to room.

The program gives youth the opportunity to develop safe, caring relationships with the senior citizens while at the same time taking pride in their work as dog handlers and helpers.

The youth come to the after-school program every Wednesday during the school year. They arrive at the Homestead, join the three facilitators and gather in a common room to talk about their day.

Once everyone has had a chance to relax they go and join the residents in their activity room to participate in an intergenerational craft project. 

During the program the youth share who gets to take care of the dogs, as well as helping some of the residents cut paper, glue, and finish their art project. Throughout the program the youth are showered with praise by the facilitators as well as the residents.

The K-9 Kids goals include enhancing each participant’s use of personal power through learning how to control a dog in a nursing home; providing human and canine companionship to nursing home Residents; promoting each participant’s ability to use self-control; increasing each participant’s self esteem, empathy, patience, and positive sense of self-worth; teaching the participant’s how to praise and providing them with opportunities to receive praise from facilitators, residents, and each other.

The program also teaches the children reverence for life.

K-9 Kids is a program funded by Yates County Community Services, which distributes funds to the Rushville Health Center, where Ms. Furst was the Outreach Department Director for over 15 years.

To date the K-9 Kids has serviced over 1000 youth living in Yates County.

The K-9 Kids Project has been nationally recognized twice. The first was when it was listed by the Humane Society of the United States directory of Animal-Related Programs for Violence Prevention and Intervention (www.hsus.org).

The second recognition was by America’s Promise in 2000. America’s Promise is a campaign founded by General Colin Powell (www.americaspromise.org).

K-9 Kids was highlighted as a program that brings youth into Finger Lakes Health, with which the Homestead is affiliated.

Got something cool you tried that was successful? Why not tweet your cool intergenerational ideas to #cooligideas? You can also post them to ourIntergenerational Connections Facebook Group or just text us through the FacebookMessenger app (friend me to join our Cool Intergenerational Ideas group discussion). We want to highlight innovative age-optimized programs and practices through our blog, social media and weekly e-newsletter! Share the inspiration.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Holidays are not always merry and bright

by Jaia Peterson Lent

as published in GRAND Magazine

Conner stood attentively at the screen door, his bright brown eyes fixed on the street in front of his grandmother's house, his hands clutching a clay figurine of a turkey he had made for his mom. She had promised to come for Thanksgiving dinner.

“One slice of turkey, three peas, two helpings of mashed potatoes, five books, and four rounds of Crazy Eights later, Connor was still waiting. “It’s bedtime,” his grandmother said, “How about we change into our pj’s and watch your favorite show?”

“No,” Connor shouted, “I want to watch it with Mommy!” Within minutes, his hurt feelings escalated to full-blown tantrum.

Three hours later, Conner was finally asleep, his head resting on his Grandpa's lap. His grandmother gently slid the clay turkey figurine out of Conner's hand, and covered him and his sleeping Grandpa with a blanket. Only then could she breathe a little easier.

Meeting the challenges that come with holidays

This time of year, more than 2.7 million grandparents raising grandchildren find themselves navigating a unique set of holiday stressors. Not only do they have to prepare their grandchildren for the possibility that the children’s parents won’t show up—they have to steel themselves to weather the fallout, all while simultaneously juggling their own loss, grief, anger, and confusion related to the reasons their adult child is not able to care for their grandchild.

Despite the gaiety one hopes to experience during the holidays, grandchildren not living with their parents often feel a mixture of joy, anxiety, excitement, and sadness. No matter their age, grandchildren may not know how to deal with the emotional swings that come with disappointment, or even with pleasant surprises. What you need is a GRANDfamily strategy!

Manage the children’s expectations: If you know that their parents will not be participating in any way during the holiday celebrations, gently tell your grandchildren ahead of time. That way, if the parents show up or send a present, it’s far easier to share the good news. If the parents don’t show, it may soften the blow and help them avoid feeling forgotten or ignored.

Support the child’s desire to give: Children love their parents, even when they have been hurt by them. It’s important to let them express how they feel. During holidays, this may come through giving. Even if you fear it won’t be reciprocated, it’s important to help them find joy in giving.

Keep it simple: You can’t be everything to everyone. Figure out the few key people that your grandchildren need to see over the holidays and focus on making those gatherings the best they can be.

Create your own traditions: Children need routine, tradition, and rituals. When they had to leave mom and/or dad's home, the rituals they had were interrupted. Holidays are a terrific time to introduce some new fun traditions that don’t revolve around parents.

Jaia Peterson Lent is the Deputy Executive Director at Generations United, a national organization dedicated to improving the lives of children, youth and older people through intergenerational collaboration, public policy and programs. Home to the National Center on Grandfamilies, Generations United is a leading voice for issues affecting families headed by grandparents or other relatives.

Wednesday, November 05, 2014

Tom's Take on the Ebola Outbreak

Tom Taylor with his grandson
History offers a vicarious experience. It allows young people to possess the ground equally with their elders. However, without a knowledge of history to give them a context for present events, the youth are at the mercy of every social misdiagnosis handed to them.

The English author, Hilary Mantel's, words ring true today. The social misdiagnosis, or misinformation, of our time includes these myths about Ebola:

1. Ebola clinics give patients injections that kill them faster

2. Schools are using routine blood tests and vaccinations to infect children with Ebola

3. Health officials are spreading the Ebola virus.


And the list goes on. 

In his guest post, Mr. Thomas C. Taylor, retired Senior Advisor for Generations United’s Seniors4Kids initiative, pulls from his 80-plus years of wisdom to offer a historical context for present events. 

Here’s Mr. Tom Taylor:

If you've been following the news, then you know the Ebola outbreak has overtaken the headlines.

The possible state quarantines and public fear of both Ebola survivors and doctors are enough to make you think we’re living the last days – as if we didn’t live through Polio, Yellow Fever and AIDS.

The Ebola scare today is as heightened as it was for polio, once the most feared disease worldwide.

It killed President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1945. Seven years prior, the U.S. established the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis, which we know today as The March of Dimes.

I remember the symbolic gesture of my classmates and I, when we marched through our school’s assembly hall and dropped a dime in a basket.

I was a teenager then, living in New Haven, CT. The crippling disease was the Ebola of our time.

The misinformation made people think the crippling disease spread through coughs and sneezes.

Three years after Roosevelt’s death, Dr. Jonas Salk, whose birthday Google recognized last week with a Doodle, developed the first vaccine delivered by injection.

And despite advice to get the shot, many people refused to do so.

The public fear of Polio lasted until 1961, when Dr. Albert Sabin developed an oral vaccine, from which my two children benefitted.

Unfortunately, there is no vaccine for HIV/AIDS, which arrived in the U.S. in the late 1960s.

The misinformation led the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to report it first as a disease between gay men.

Since then, those claims have been corrected. AIDS hit many famous people including movie star Rock Hudson, who died in 1985.

Countering misinformation today might require us revisiting creative solutions from the past.

With AIDS, a creative solution was the first World AIDS Day in 1988 – the same year tennis legend Arthur Ashe and Magic Johnson, a basketball great, announced they were HIV-positive.

Both men helped raise awareness.

Ashe’s autobiography, in which he stated catching AIDS from a blood transfusion, prompted better screening of blood banks.

Magic Johnson is an inspiration to people living with HIV by not letting the disease stop him from living a successful life.

Tom at a Seniors4Kids event.
He’s now part owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers baseball team and owner of the Magic Johnson Theater chain.

Another creative solution to misinformation used the arts to raise awareness of Yellow Fever in a fun way.

I was in first grade when I learned about the Yellow Fever epidemic through a play.

In fact, I played the part of Dr. Carlos Finlay, who, with help from Dr. Walter Reed, developed a cure in 1900.

Finlay, who became a hero when my mom was a child, did this after learning the disease was transmitted by mosquitos.

In addition to being a success, the play taught me the importance of helping people. This impacted how my professional life unfolded, working on behalf of children, youth and families.

Tuesday, November 04, 2014

Building Bridges

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.

In part 23 of our series, we feature Building Bridges, a program of the University of Missouri Extension.

(Check our archives for parts 1-22.)

Building Bridges is a community-based intergenerational program to help bring generations together for meaningful interactions and experiences.

Education, friendship, and caring are major components. The program evaluation results showed that Building Bridges not only helped young generations practice character traits, but also have more positive perceptions of growing old.

The majority of children and youth from Building Bridges felt that they showed their caring, respect and sharing with older adults and made older adults happy and less lonely.

Through the program, both generations have a better understanding of each other and their comfort zone for conversation and sharing was enhanced.

Got something cool you tried that was successful? Why not tweet your cool intergenerational ideas to #cooligideas? You can also post them to ourIntergenerational Connections Facebook Group or just text us through the FacebookMessenger app (friend me to join our Cool Intergenerational Ideas group discussion). We want to highlight innovative age-optimized programs and practices through our blog, social media and weekly e-newsletter! Share the inspiration.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Our Folks

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.

In part 22 of our series, we feature Our Work, a program of Groundwork Hudson Valley.

(Check our archives for parts 1-21.)

Launched in the fall of 2008, Our Folks aims to get youth involved in efforts to help older adults in their community age in place.

To do this, the team, comprised of students from Riverside High School, interviewed a number of older adults to find people who still live in their homes and need help maintaining them.

Groundwork staff and local professionals taught the students landscaping and home repair skills like tree-pruning, painting, weeding, planting, lawn-mowing, etc. enabling them to work with the home-owners to make needed repairs.

The second goal of this program is to bridge the generation gap by bringing people together over shared projects and shared lunches! 

The students and homeowners prepare meals together and spend time getting to know each other over lunch. Our first year with this project proved that very meaningful relationships can come out of this interaction, and that there is much to be learned on both sides.

Primary funding for this program is provided by the United Way of Westchester and Putnam and the Helen Andrus Benedict Foundation.

Additional funding is provided by the Westchester County Youth Bureau, St. Faith’s House Foundation, and the Thomas & Agnes Carvel Foundation.

Got something cool you tried that was successful? Why not tweet your cool intergenerational ideas to #cooligideas? You can also post them to our Intergenerational Connections Facebook Group or just text us through the Facebook Messenger app (friend me to join our Cool Intergenerational Ideas group discussion). We want to highlight innovative age-optimized programs and practices through our blog, social media and weekly e-newsletter! Share the inspiration.