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.

Monday, October 20, 2014

2014 Eisner Prize Winners Part 2 - The Intergenerational Schools

For 14 years, The Intergenerational Schools (TIS) have been a transformative model of lifelong learning positively impacting costs and outcomes associated with educating children and engaging older adults, including those with dementia.

Based on its success and community interest, there are now three Intergenerational Schools operating in Cleveland, providing a free public education to over 500 young learners.

Co-founder Peter Whitehouse, Ph.D., recently announced the creation of Intergenerational Schools International (ISI) and its first project The Intergenerativity Project (TIP). (Learn more about ISI and TIP.)

The Intergenerational Schools feature an innovative kindergarten through 8th grade developmental curriculum that is proven to foster student achievement. Modeled on building relationships of reciprocal respect and learning, multi-age classrooms give every child the opportunity to serve as both teacher and learner.

Classes have a range of ages (spanning 3-4 years) and abilities, creating a dynamic and individualized learning environment.

Additionally, students learn with a lifespan perspective and benefit from daily interactions with a diverse group of adults and elders who participate fully in the school community as mentors, tutors, and co-learners.

TIS actively partners with Judson Smart Living and Case Western Reserve University not only to deliver their programs, but also to document and study them for potential future replication. Learn more about The Intergenerational Schools.

2014 Eisner Prize Winners Part 1 - Bridge Meadows

Congrats to our friends, Bridge Meadows and The Intergenerational School, on winning the 2014 Eisner Prize!

Last week, we started profiling each organization. Here's Bridge Meadows.

A unique multi-generational community (located in the Portsmouth neighborhood of North Portland, OR), Bridge Meadows is a place where adoptive parents, foster children, and low-income elders - those over 55 - find a true home built with love and the shared vision of a better tomorrow.

Children move from the instability of foster care placements to permanent homes and families. Adoptive families receive essential resources and guidance, and low-income elders find purpose as they volunteer 100 hours/quarter in service to the community.

These services are why The Eisner Foundation recognized Bridge Meadows for the "Innovation in Intergenerational Solutions" category. Learn more about Bridge Meadows. Stay tuned when we profile The Intergenerational School.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Generations of Us: An Intergenerational Storytelling Project

EDITOR’S NOTE: Each week, we’ll 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 21 of our series, we feature Generations of Us, an intergenerational storytelling project in Chicago, IL.


Generations of Us: An Intergenerational Storytelling Project on Chicago’s South Side connected young and older adults living on Chicago’s South Side to share their personal experiences through oral history interviews.

The project aimed to use the power of storytelling to promote intergenerational reconciliation and learning between young and older adults living in communities impacted by poverty, violence, and the criminal justice system.  

The project rested on the idea that intergenerational dialogue will promote peace by creating understanding and stronger networks within the community.

Through a partnership with the South Side Help Center in Chicago's Roseland community and the Atlas Senior Center in the South Chicago neighborhood, the young and older adults participated in interactive workshops focusing on the power of storytelling to hear firsthand accounts of history, share life experiences and perspectives, combat ageism, build relationships, and promote intergenerational dialogue.

The project took place during the month of August 2014 and included 8 workshops. It began with a one-day workshop that introduced oral history and including an interactive aging simulation with the young people at the South Side Help Center.

The remaining workshops took place at the Atlas Senior Center, which allowed the young adults to visit the Senior Center each day.

The curriculum followed the 6-step process of Oral History: plan, prepare, exchange, preserve, present, and reflect.

To ensure that the participants would be able to interact as much as possible, workshops incorporated intergenerational activities, icebreakers, games, practice interviews, and lessons on the process of oral history each day.

On average, 25 participants attended each day, and we typically had a ratio of one older adult to two young adults. In total,  approximately 50 participants attended and recorded 10 full-length oral history interviews.

The last day of the workshop was a presentation and celebration that was open to the public, which included playing short selections from the interviews, participants sharing their personal reflections, playing BINGO, and eating delicious food!

Each participant received a t-shirt and a CD with their audio recording and approximately 50 people were in attendance for the celebration! Due to the success of this project, future collaborations between the South Side Help Center and the Atlas Senior Center are in the process of being discussed.

For more information about this project, please take a look at the Generations of Us blog and/or contact Kelli Bosak directly at kbosak@uchicago.edu.

Kelli Bosak is a graduate student at the University of Chicago’s School of Social Service Administration.  

This project was made possibly by a grant from the Kathryn W. Davis Projects for Peace through the International House of Chicago.

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.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Multigenerational Housing in an Expensive Locale Part 2 - Solutions

This post appears courtesy of Brandon Baunach, an architect with 17 years of experience.

In my previous post, I shared the challenges of finding affordable multigenerational (multigen) housing when my wife and I decided to buy a house with my mother. (You can read about it here.)

Over the next several posts, I’ll explore solutions for multigen housing in dense urban environments – like New York and San Francisco – concerning unit and project design, project finance, and project planning issues. 

I’ll start by exploring broad design considerations – a family’s privacy, willingness to share and responsibility – that help guide successful projects when building multigen housing.

Privacy

Apartments in dense urban settings are generally smaller than those in suburban communities. Because of this, creating higher levels of privacy both inside and outside of a unit become challenging.

Here are some questions to understand about the end user: what level of privacy is preferred? What level is acceptable? and What level is unacceptable?

For instance, through local market research, one may find that users of different generations feel comfortable around their family in public areas such as a living room, but require absolute isolation and separation in their use of a bathroom or a kitchen. Other groups may like to share kitchens and not living rooms.

Privacy between a multigen household and other households should also be understood.

Do families prefer to know their neighbors? At what degree do they interact? What level of interaction is acceptable to the different generations?

End users, for example, may find that, although they have deep integration within their own family, they may want to stay private outside of the household.

These issues would certainly inform how public space is designed, if the property is a cooperative or a condominium, how units get individual private spaces or only public spaces or both, and how certain domestic activities are encouraged to be more public such as shared laundry or cooking facilities.

Willingness to Share

Willingness to share is related to, but distinctly different from, privacy. On the surface, a member of a household may not want to share a bathroom. Is this because they are deeply embarrassed to potentially be seen in a compromising position? Or is it because they see their space as the space they, and no one else, owns?

What’s interesting is, once a household member feels like they have a significant sense of ownership, they may be willing to share more than they originally thought. In effect, what a designer might have originally suspected as a need for privacy was actually a need for ownership.

A concrete design example may be a kitchen.

Let’s say a grandparent has to have their own kitchen that is separate from their child’s family’s kitchen.

Why? Is it that the grandparent wants to keep food separate? They don’t like certain smells? They don’t like to be crowded when they cook? Or they cook at odd hours?

What designers may find when digging deeper is that one kitchen will work for two adult generations if an additional refrigerator is added or that the kitchen has a bit more counter space to allow for separation.

Responsibility

Understanding the baseline of family responsibility will be critical in designing a harmonious multigenerational household.

Ultimately, for legal reasons, responsibility of mortgages, rents, and bills, and a household’s relationships with their neighbors has to be settled with one or all parties within a household.

Because of this, multigen developments should create further contractual obligations that provide a clear path for financial and social responsibilities.

In terms of design of a household unit, it’s best to assume that people would prefer to be responsible for as little as possible and will begrudgingly accept responsibility with resentment in return. 

Although this is quite cynical, this allows multigen housing designers the opportunity to provide interesting amenity options that would benefit a household of multiple adult generations.

For instance, imagine a cleaning service that provides periodic cleaning only in shared spaces such as kitchens and laundries. So bedrooms, baths, and living spaces are to the user's discretion, but common spaces always remain clean. Because of the scale and specificity of spaces cleaned, the cost could be quite reasonable.

As you can see, there are many variations and considerations for how you might design a multigenerational household. In my next post, I’ll continue with solutions for multigen housing in dense urban environments, exploring factors like life stages, race and culture, and economic status. 

The design aspects I discussed mostly help with the social stability of a multigenerational household. 

And although economic necessity can dictate the choice of adult generations living together, it does not necessarily have to dictate their sense of individuality and purpose given thoughtful design.

Brandon Baunach is an architect at BAR Architects in San Francisco, CA. He lives in Berkeley, CA, with his wife, mother, and two sons.

The Significance of an Intergenerational Conference Convening in Hawai'i

There are two reasons we’re excited about next year’s international conference. First, will it be the first time we convened a conference outside of D.C. Secondly, it's in Honolulu, Hawai'i!

Our guest blogger, ASN Consulting Services' Audrey Suga-Nakagawa, explains the significance of an intergenerational conference convening in Hawai'i.

Hawai'i is one of the most racially diverse places in the world.  

It has become home to many different ethnic groups over the last 200 years, as each ethnic group has added elements of its own culture to local life. 

Hawai'i's variety of cultures can be traced back to the old “plantation days” in the Islands, when various ethnic groups from all over migrated to Hawai'i to earn a living and support their growing families. 

Today, contemporary culture in Hawai'i is a mix of the different cultures and ethnic groups that make up its unique population.

The State also enjoys one of the longest life expectancy in the nation and the world.  The average 65-year-old woman in Hawai'i today has a life expectancy of 88 years while men can expect to live past 84 years of age.   

Hawai'i’s respect and reverence for its kupuna (Hawaiian for elder, grandparent or older person) deeply rooted in the local culture.  

A kupuna is an honored elder who has acquired enough life experience to become a family and community leader. 

In ancient times, they were teachers and caretakers of grandchildren and that bond was especially strong. Even today, the kupuna is expected to speak out and help make decisions on important issues for both the family and the community. 

Many are actively engaged as volunteers in our schools, hospitals, community service organizations, churches, ethnic and cultural clubs and continue to play a vital role in their multigenerational households. 

Our kupuna show how rich a resource they are and why they should be tapped to contribute to the betterment of Hawai'i, for they truly represent one of Hawai'i's fastest growing natural resources.

The City and County of Honolulu is currently engaged in becoming an internationally recognized Age Friendly City, a prestigious designation by the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Global Network of Age Friendly Cities and Communities.


Tuesday, October 07, 2014

Skokie School District 73.5's Grandfriends Intergenerational Volunteer Program

EDITOR’S NOTE: Each week, we’ll 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 20 of our series, we feature Skokie School District 73.5’s Grandfriends Intergenerational Volunteer Program in Skokie, IL.


The Grandfriends Intergenerational Volunteer Program is one of the longest, continuously operating, school-based intergenerational programs in Illinois.

The program, which started in 1991, matches local older adult volunteers with kindergarten-fifth grade classrooms. Volunteers, in collaboration with the classroom teachers, work with students in areas of reading, writing and math.

Frequently Grandfriends share their own life experiences, which brings history to life.

Additionally, volunteers have helped in the school office, the library and with the art and music teachers.

The Skokie School District 73.5 is a culturally-diverse community and their Grandfriends help students as they learn to communicate in English. Enduring relationships have developed between teachers, school staff and our wonderful volunteers.

The volunteers love watching the children grow throughout the school year.

Their Grandfriends often serve as "ambassadors at large," sharing the insights they have gained by being in the school throughout the wider community.

Parents, students and school staff have all come to recognize and value the incredible resource their Grandfriends have become.

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.