Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Lemoore Adult Day Care Center

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 14 of our series, we feature Lemoore Adult Day Care Center, an intergenerational  shared site based in Lemoore, CA.

(Read parts 12345678910, 11, 12 and 13)

Their program shares a building with a Head Start program that serves around 78 children.

Throughout the year, Head Start participants collaborate with Lemoore Adult Day Care Center seniors on projects.

Middle school and high school students, who need service hours for their graduation requirements, also visit the Adult Day Program to work directly with seniors. Over the summer, school age children work in Lemoore’s youth program to help their low income families.

“Our program is the center of many generations, and we are proud to say that our seniors of our rural community,” explained Lemoore’s Director Pam Chin. “Also, our youth benefit from coming together and learning lessons to take with them as they become important citizens of our country.”

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. Youth Jumpstart Grantees can share ideas here. 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.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Nancy Gregory - Seniors4Kids Profile

Nancy Gregory describes herself as a type-A personality. After talking with her for some time, though, you would conclude that’s she’s far more than simply driven: she’s upbeat, caring, and at a good place in her life.

“I’m a homegrown Nebraskan who has lived in enough places to know that the Midwest is where I belong,” Gregory explains. “I went to graduate school in Boston and really liked that experience, then lived for a while in West Virginia, not far from Washington, DC. But I must admit that I really came to appreciate living in the Midwest. Life seems less complicated and moves at a little slower pace. And, it’s a great place to raise kids.”

Having a great place to raise kids has taken on new meaning for Gregory ever since the birth of her first grandchild, Michael, six months ago. And it will take on even more importance when her second grandchild arrives next June.

The 50-something retiree now spends her days caring for her grandson and three toddlers – and Gregory loves what she’s doing. “I have two passions in life: children and elder care. When I was a career woman, I was a health-care administrator with Veterans Affairs, working primarily with older adults,” she notes. “Now that I’m retired I get to indulge my other passion, working with children.”

But that’s only the beginning of Gregory’s encore career. Right after she retired in 2012, she took courses to get certified as a health care administrator for elders. Once she takes her certification exam, Gregory intends to blend her two passions by finding ways to connect older and younger generations through her work and volunteerism.

“I would love to see more connection and involvement between generations. My kids grew up away from their grandparents; it wasn’t until they were teenagers that my sons became close to their grandparents. They missed out on a lot of years of sharing time with their elders, particularly when they were very young and most impressionable. I know I learned my most important life lessons from my grandpa.

“It’s critical that older adults be around to be a soft landing for kids, to spoil them and be there for them. We now know that reading and talking to kids from a very young age is critical for early brain development and functioning. Most young parents are so busy worrying about putting food on the table, they don’t have all the time they would like to nurture their children’s development, especially in those important first five years of life.  Grandparents and other older adults have the time, the life experience and the passion to spend nurturing them.”

That’s where volunteering comes in – as does Gregory’s type-A personality.

“I joined the Nebraska Early Childhood Grandparent Network because I passionately believe that older adults’ life experience is critical to their ability to effectively advocate on behalf of children and youth. They can reflect on what they’ve learned over the years and put that experience to good use. Furthermore, older adults tend to have the time to devote to being strong advocates for children of all ages, whether they’re newborns or older adolescents.

“I also think the recent government shutdown was an eye-opener because it showed us how involved the government is in so many aspects of our lives, yet that it has limited resources. We need to look instead to our retiree population to get involved and build a strong legacy for future generations. As I contemplate my future role as a health care administrator for elders, I want to explore ways I can meld my passion for older adults with my passion for kids. I plan to spend more time volunteering and encouraging others to get involved. I also plan to spend a lot of time determining how I can help intersect the generations to bring older and younger together and share life experiences.

“I’m not exactly sure how I will bring all this about, but I do know that I intend to spend the rest of my life thinking about it – and trying to make a difference.”

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

First Lady Sally Ganem - Seniors4Kids Profile

PHOTO: Tim Hynds, Sioux City Journal

Like many Nebraskans you’re likely to meet, Sally Ganem is fiercely devoted to her state. In fact, she calls living in Nebraska, “…an opportunity to live the good life – and make the good life great.”

And as the state’s First Lady, she’s doing all she can to make the good life great for all of Nebraska’s citizens, especially the children.

Children have always been a priority for Ganem, a mother of one son and a former elementary school principal. From her many years in education, she understands the value of high-quality early learning and care.

"In my experience as an elementary school principal, it was so easy to see the difference between those children who had been part of quality early childhood programs or parenting, and those who had not. The ones who did have those experiences came to school prepared and hungry to learn.  They had a much broader vocabulary, were better able to share with classmates, and were more excited to explore new ideas.  The learning gap between those children is larger in kindergarten, and the gap only gets larger over time, expanding throughout their educational experience."

"Educational achievement is clearly tied to later success in life. Both my husband and I understand that business development and quality early childhood learning and care experiences are one and the same. In a competitive global economy, we need workers who have been encouraged to learn, explore and achieve from their earliest days of life.  These are the children who will grow up flexible, adaptable, curious, and able to think through challenges.  These are the kinds of citizens and workers who make Nebraska great."

“I believe that parents and grandparents are the most significant teachers of young children and the most significant persons in their lives – and I hope this legacy continues,” Ganem says. “I wish every child could have a caring, loving environment in which to grow. But that’s not always the case, and we need to make sure that all of Nebraska’s youngest children have the opportunities to learn, grow and realize their full potential, especially those who face the greatest challenges in their earliest years.”

Ganem believes one way to address the needs of children and youth is through volunteerism. “Children and youth are the future of this country. We need to invest in them by giving of our time and talents,” she notes. Calling volunteerism the backbone of efforts to improve children’s lives, Ganem proudly points to the fact that Nebraskans provide more than one billion dollars annually in volunteer service.

Omaha World Herald
“When I was principal of Howard Elementary School in Fremont, I saw the tremendous positive effect our older volunteers had on students,” Ganem explains. “I can’t imagine what my school would have been like without those volunteers; they made a world of difference to the children and to our school.  They were a special and completely unique source of warmth, support and encouragement for our children, and a valued resource for our parents and staff.”

“As a state and as a country, we will be in trouble if we don’t help our young people. Children need to have a voice in our communities. Grandparents and other older adults can give them that voice by advocating on their behalf. It’s reassuring for children to see older adults standing up for them.

“For older adults who want to join in the effort, I recommend they visit www.serve.nebraska.gov and www.seniors4kids.org, and get involved. It will make a world of difference to our children and to those who volunteer.”

Meet Mary Harding - Seniors4Kids Profile

Mary Harding is not one to cower from doing what’s right. She once risked being ostracized when she voted against her colleagues with the Nebraska Public Power District (NPPD) Board of Directors to reject the resolution on TransCanada’s Keystone Pipeline project.

Although NPPD still approved the resolution, Harding became a hero for Bold Nebraska, an advocacy group that continues to fight the pipeline project.

She’s just as determined, when it comes to her grandkids and other young Nebraskans, to leave them a better world. “I hope that they can enjoy the same kind of life that I did growing up,” she said. “We felt safe on the streets…. Schools were well-funded” and better-off then.

Today, nearly 40 percent of Nebraska’s children ages 0-5 aren’t doing as good as Harding’s generation did at their age, according to a data by First Five Nebraska, an advocacy group building public momentum in support of high quality early childhood experiences for young Nebraskans. That preschool group is considered at risk of later failing in school and life because they don’t have access to high-quality early experiences and relationships.

“The more we know about the development of human beings, the more we realize those early experiences are absolutely critical to laying down the pathways that make an individual a good member of our community and society,” Harding said.

Her early experiences helped her appreciate the environment she fights to protect. “I love the change of the seasons,” said Harding, whose preservationist background includes executive director positions at both the Nebraska League of Conservation Voters and the Nebraska Environmental Trust Fund.

Harding’s currently helping to push her state’s wind-energy potential, with NPPD’s goal of generating 10 percent of its power from wind. “I love the fresh air and the clean water that we take for granted here,” she said.

Harding’s early experiences also derive from her Nebraskan roots that run seven generations deep.  She feels that same sense of community in her current hometown, Lincoln, where she and her husband, Richard Erickson, operate a residential rental property business.

With a population of over 302,000, the Lincoln Metropolitan area – which also encompasses Lancaster and Seward counties – is personable enough for Harding’s granddaughters – Eleanor, 5, and Elizabeth,2 – to enjoy the easygoing pace and hospitality their grandmother enjoyed from childhood to now. 

Harding hopes to see more grandparents advocating for children and youth. In her Aug. 23 letter that the Omaha World-Herald published, she called on Nebraska Gov. Dave Heineman to do more with Parental Involvement in Education Month.

“As a grandparent and Nebraskan who cares about our state’s future, I urge the governor to expand that call to grandparents and extended families,” Harding wrote in her piece, “involve grandparents in school family” – noting that educators and childcare providers are already interacting with the one in 10 grandparents who regularly provide care for at least one grandchild.

Since older adults have the benefit of experience,  “we must stand up, speak out and get involved at the very beginning in advocating for children,” according to Harding. “We got to take a role in helping shape the policies that we undertake to provide for a strong environment to raise children.”  

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Grands As Parents Inc.

PHOTO: Courtesy of Grands As Parents Inc.
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 13 of our series, we feature Grands As Parents Inc., a Philadelphia-based collaborative effort addressing the needs of relative caregivers.

(Read parts 12345678910, 11 and 12)

Grands As Parents Inc. was founded in 1996 and is comprised of grandparent caregivers and relatives who have found themselves in parenting roles for their grandchildren (in some cases great children). These grandparents have been forced from the realm of retirement to become sole caretakers for these energetic and needy children.

Grands As Parents provides support services and advocates for the rights of the heads of such families and is committed to providing assistance to these caregivers and their entire household for which rhey are responsible.

GAP is designed to address the special needs and concerns of the grandparents who have specific issues (whatever the reason) and who are temporary or permanent caretakers of their grandchildren, however this is not a requirement for participation.

This a non-profit organization is administrated by volunteers and has a board of directors. This organization willingly collaborates with other nonprofit community organizations in the concept that it takes a village to raise a child.

GAP provides the following services/ referrals - Crisis/Stress Management, Legal Services, Housing, Food, Clothing, Human Resources.

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. Youth Jumpstart Grantees can share ideas here. 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.

World Humanitarian Day

PHOTO: umc.org
The spirit of World Humanitarian Day, Aug. 19, is alive in Ferguson, Missouri. Generations United applauds the church leaders, who, in the days following the police shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown, teamed up and are now acting as neighborhood peacemakers.

For decades, these intergenerational institutions helped reaffirm each community member’s value, despite their age and other differences.

In her article for the United Methodist Church of Nashville, Heather Hahn reported on the church leader’s efforts: 
When unrest led the Ferguson-Florissant School District to cancel classes, the church welcomed children with educational games and healthy food so parents could work without scrambling for childcare Friday.  Members of other area United Methodist churches volunteered to help, and the Missouri Annual (regional) Conference provided financial support for the church’s outreach this week.
In partnership with the Association of Black Psychologists, Ferguson’s Wellspring Church is offering community members prayers and counselling.

These humanitarian efforts show the power of all ages…because we’re stronger together.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Building an Intergenerational Community Through Art

Duncan McDonell, right, with seniors from Institute on Aging
EDITOR’S NOTE: This guest post and photos appear courtesy of Duncan McDonell, a sophomore at Stuart Hall High School in San Francisco. His school of one of 22 that belong to the Sacred Heart Network of schools in the United States. 

In my first blog post here, “Art as a Tool for Intergenerational Connection,” I talked about my work with older adults at the Institute on Aging (IOA), thanks to the Youth Jumpstart Grant from Generations United and Mentor Up.

That’s how I met Jessica McCracken, my mentor and program manager of IOA’s intergenerational arts program, Center for Elders and Youth in the Arts (CEYA). At IOA, Jessica and I teach art in the day centers.

Part of my goal for the Youth Jumpstart Grant was to expand IOA’s intergenerational arts programs with help from my high school’s Students in Action (SIA) team, of which I’m a member.

This program is part of our Service Learning Program directed by Raymond O’Connor, who is a great man and has helped me with my project tremendously.

SIA youth with elder partner
In SIA, we organize community service activities, present monthly service awards to members of our community, fundraise, and promote service learning throughout our school. The whole SIA program is amazing. I’m honored to be a part of it.  

This year, the SIA team headed our school service day, the day our entire school (and affiliated junior high school) break into groups and travel around the Bay Area to provide community service.

While brainstorming where to host some of our service sites, I suggested Institute on Aging, an idea the SIA group strongly supported. They chose me to lead our project.

Before our March 14, 2014 school-wide Service Day, Jessica and I felt the need to provide sensitivity training to my peers at Stuart Hall High School before they came to teach.

We met with seven students for an hour at school and, using a presentation Jessie and I made, we discussed various strategies for how to make the seniors’ and the students’ experiences as meaningful as possible.  

Jessie talked about IOA and its 24 programs that enhance the quality of life for older adults.  She also discussed age-related changes and the particulars of working with a frail older population, and I added tips that I picked up from my experiences.

Another SIA youth with his elder partner
My main tips were never judge anyone, especially elders, by first impressions and don’t be afraid to interact with the seniors or engage them in conversation.

After our sensitivity training, which went very well, we were ready to teach. Our group was comprised of five high schoolers and two junior high kids.  Everyone that went was passionate about art and enthusiastic about interacting with elders, as they were allowed to choose their service day elective.

At IOA, we paired each youth with seven elders and worked on a drawing-interview activity, in which we filled boxes with drawings of each of their favorite things (e.g., food, animals, places).  

The students then stood at the front of the room as they presented their project and told us about themselves and their partner elder.  

It was an excellent activity in my opinion because it helped us all learn about each other and our interests.   

All the seniors loved the class and so did the students.  One of my peers even told Jessie and me that “serving the seniors really made me feel like I was making someone’s life a little better, something I aspire to do in the future”.

I’m so glad we were able to not only help the seniors have a good time, but the kids as well.  Throughout the course of this wonderful day, Jessica and I were able to expand and improve IOA’s arts program.

Not to mention, we enjoyed it as well!

Duncan McDonell
Stuart Hall High School
San Francisco, CA
Class of 2016