Friday, February 28, 2014

A Look Back at Past Best Intergenerational Communities Award Winners

Communities across America are developing innovative practices, programs and policies to solve challenges that benefit people of all ages.

Next month, we’ll honor the 2014 Best Intergenerational Community award winners: The Greater Phoenix Region, Arizona; City of Parkland, Florida; Reston, Virginia and Village of Shorewood, Wisconsin.

These age-optimized communities bring together people of all generations to improve neighborhoods, towns, cities, and counties.    

Intergenerational communities thrive because they build strong, supportive communities with fresh solutions to challenges that help people of all ages. They advance policies and practices that both acknowledge and promote intergenerational interdependence.
That’s why, starting today and through the weeks leading up to our March 25 event, we’re highlighting our past winners’ stories in three-part series that shows why age-intentional strategies are important.

First up, are our inaugural winners in 2012: Georgetown, Texas; Lamoni, Iowa and Oberlin, Ohio.

In Georgetown, TX, home to approximately 47,000 residents, no one entity plans or oversees the city’s array of intergenerational activities or initiatives. Instead, the city government, schools, businesses, and religious and nonprofit organizations all work collaboratively to identify opportunities and strengthen existing efforts.

The city government helps sustain intergenerational efforts in a number of ways. Using an Asset Based Community Development approach, it works to build the often underused “community assets” (talents) of seniors and youth.

The city is also a major contributor to the Georgetown Project, which funds social service and youth development organizations that help sustain intergenerational connections. Other city projects include helping to revitalize the historic town square so it now serves as an intergenerational gathering place; overseeing a new public library that includes space to foster intergenerational interactions; and building a new recreation center that includes a teen/senior center.

Things are just as busy in Lamoni, Iowa, where problem solving brings the generations together.

With a population of just under 2,500 residents, Lamoni has numerous strong intergenerational practices benefiting all ages. Graceland University students volunteer with school children, senior adults and local community organizations. High school students teach computer skills to adults. 

The weekly Lunch Buddies mentoring program brings mentors ranging from Graceland students to city employees, to Optimist Club members, to retired citizens to the local elementary school.

Additional intergenerational programs include a Service Learning Club that provides a wide array of services for older adults and Across Ages mentoring that pairs middle school youth with adults aged 55 and over.

That spirit of collaboration and community service are a big part of life in Oberlin, a city that’s built strong alliances with community organizations that ensure that Oberlin is an intergenerational community. 

The local government, Oberlin College, Oberlin City Schools, Kendal at Oberlin (a retirement community), Oberlin Community Services, Oberlin Heritage Center, Mercy Allen Hospital, and many other local organizations work closely together to develop programs that support and encourage interaction among different generations. 

Students from Oberlin College’s Bonner Center for Service and Learning work with the many community organizations to address concerns and challenges, using many intergenerational techniques to achieve the goals.  Read the full community profiles here.

Stay tuned for next week, when we introduce
San Diego County, California; Virginia Planning District 10 (2012 winners) and Dunedin, Florida (a 2013 winner).

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