Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Micah's Backpack for Senior Adults

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 six of our series, we feature Micah’s Backpack for Senior Adults, a project idea of 14-year-old Olivia Hodge with the assistance of St. Michael Lutheran Church in Blacksburg, Virginia. (Read parts onetwo, three, four and five.)

Driven by her care for hungry people, Olivia Hodge’s idea for Micah’s Backpack for Senior Adults was inspired by Micah’s Backpack for Students, a program she participated in for the last four years, providing weekend meals to students in her community.

“Each week 50 to 70 youth and adults, ranging from 4 to 80 years old, gather to pack and distribute backpacks for local schools,” Hodge explained.

The nature of the open source program allows participants to share their opinions and help refine it.

A similar approach would be applied to a backpack-style program for the elders living in a local 144 apartment HUD Housing Project.

“Around the 20th of each month, teams of youth and adults will go to each of the three apartment buildings and spend about an hour distributing food and socializing with residents,” Hodge noted. “The teams would distribute items like soup, crackers, peanut butter and oatmeal to help the recipients bridge the gap until their next social security check.”

In addition to St. Michael Lutheran Church, this project’s potential partners would include Warm Hearth Village, the local chapter of the AARP, the Agency on Aging, and Retired Senior Volunteers Programs in addition to other local faith groups and Virginia Tech’s student groups.

“Our goal,” as Hodge put it, “is to build a community partnership that will work to alleviate senior hunger.”

Got something cool you tried that was successful? Why not tweet them to #cooligideas, post them to our Facebook Group, Intergenerational Connections? If you're a Youth Jumpstart Grantee, share your ideas in here or text us through Facebook's Messenger app by friending 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

Friday, June 06, 2014

REFRAME: Education Through the Lens of DC Youth

How do you define yourself?

Let’s start by filling in the blanks: “I am ___” or “I fight for ___.”

Throughout this school year, Critical Exposure partnered with students from the Rhode Island School of Design and DC Public Schools to answer those statements through photos.

The result was a public art project with portraits hung on the walls and windows of local businesses throughout the city.

I had the chance to check out this project during a recent showing at the Pepco Edison Place Art Gallery, hosted by Critical Exposure.

It was amazing seeing how an image can mean much more than what you see. For example, a photo of a construction site shows a young DC native a city that is changing.

A self-portrait shows a young artist, like Tavean Osborne, how far he’s come. Looking at his piece, “I AM WHO I AM,” he said: “What I’ve done in the past, I’ve put it all in a picture to remind me that I’m not that person I used to be back in the day.”

Visiting the gallery was definitely a great experience, especially learning that REFRAME came out of youth’s concerns that adults advocating for education reform are too detached from the communities and people they wish to help.

What if Critical Exposure took an intergenerational approach like the Rachel Carson Sense of Wonder Contest or the Intergenerational Digital Photography Curriculum?

Both the contest and curriculum are opportunities to connect the generations and correct misconceptions on both sides.

Maybe an intergenerational approach would raise more support for their initiative.

Seeing the work they accomplished since March gets me excited. I can’t wait to see what else Critical Exposure has in store. 

Tuesday, June 03, 2014

Meet Ilana Mittleman – Generations United Summer Intern

Ilana and her grandmother
Older adults have always been an integral part of my life.

A highlight of my week is when I check in with my grandmother to see how she’s doing and tell her what’s going on in my life.

Because of those family relationships, I have sought out various opportunities related to working with older adults and discovered my passion for intergenerational work.

I also recently graduated from Brandeis University in Waltham, MA, with a degree in Health: Science, Society & Policy (in simpler terms: public health).

This summer, I am interning at Generations United through the National Academy of Social Insurance’s (NASI) Somers internship on long-term care and aging research.

Through my internship, I want to build off of my experiences with intergenerational programs.

At Brandeis, I took several courses on topics related to aging, which complemented activities that I participated in.

My intergenerational work included coordinating a student-led a capella concert series at an assisted living residence and participating in Sages and Seekers, which teamed students with elders to interview them about their lives.

A couple summers ago, I interned at My Second Home, an intergenerational adult day program in my home state of New York. I love seeing the interactions between the younger and the older generations. It just seems natural to me.

This summer, my projects include updating Generations United’s database, researching statistics and information about the benefits of intergenerational programs, working on the Best Intergenerational Communities Initiative and helping with the Program of Distinction Award.

As someone interested in the field of aging and pursuing work that benefits older adults, I want to learn more about related policy and other intergenerational programs that exist.

Additionally, I will help out with Grandparents Day. A perk of being in our nation’s capital is the opportunity to attend a range of meetings and legislative hearings on relevant topics.

As a NASI intern, I hope to apply what I learn about social insurance and policy issues to the projects that I work on at Generations United.

I’m excited and looking forward to this summer with Generations United!