Tuesday, December 06, 2016

Meet Generations United's Reviewers


Mary Elliot graduated from Eastern University in May with a degree in Philosophy, Sociology, and Economics. Currently residing in Boston, Mary works remotely as a research assistant for a scholar at the Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture. A long time volunteer with associations that serve the elderly, Mary is interested in what intergenerational experiences may teach us regarding plurality and difference.




Nancy E. S. Wood, MSW, BSN: She founded Families Turning, LLC to address the needs of adult family members as they come back together emotionally and/or physically in order to live into more harmonious and fulfilling relationships and attend to important discussions. She writes and provides workshops on the cognitive and behavioral aspects of adult-to-adult family relationships. She was raised in an intergenerational home where she learned to value this type of community life and carried this passion into her careers as a professional nurse and therapist. When not working at Families Turning she can be found watching movies, in nature taking photos and hiking and spending time with members of her intergenerational household.



Taylor is a Master of Social Work (MSW) and Master of Public Health (MPH) candidate at the George Warren Brown School of Social Work at Washington University in St. Louis. She is a Master’s Research Fellow in Aging at the Harvey A. Friedman Center for Aging at Washington University’s Institute for Public Health. Her professional and research interests include geriatric health, intergenerational engagement & advocacy, and grandfamilies. When not reviewing for Generations United, she enjoys yoga, teaching color guard, and exploring the city of St. Louis

Monday, December 05, 2016

The Commons Methodist Home

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.

This week's cool idea is The Commons Methodist Home in Oklahoma, which connects The Commons residents with children and youth through reading activities, music and student celebrations.

(Check our archives for parts 1-88 | non-archived: 1, 2, 3,4, 5, 6 and 7)


The Commons United Methodist Health Care Center is part of an educational program for 4-year-olds, an Intergenerational Approach to Learning, which benefits both children and The Commons residents alike.

The program's youth along with the Commons' "grandmas and grandpas" provides a unique atmosphere for learning, caring and cooperation.

The Commons 4-year-old program is a collaborative effort between the United Methodist Health Care Center, Enid Public Schools and CDSA/Smart Start Northwest Oklahoma. 

The project is fully funded by Enid Public Schools and an Innovative Project Grant through Smart Start Oklahoma from the Inasmuch Foundation. The grant provides a professional teacher and assistant through Enid Public Schools.

Got something cool you tried that was successful? Share the inspiration. You can also post them to our Intergenerational Connections Facebook Group. We want to highlight innovative age-optimized programs and practices through our blog, social media and weekly e-newsletter!

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Lifesongs

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.


This week's cool idea is Lifesongs, an intergenerational arts project in New Mexico that promotes social inclusion and dignity for elders and people in hospice care.

(Check our archives for parts 1-87 | non-archived: 1, 2, 3,4, 5, 6 and 7)

Lifesongs brings elders and people in hospice together with artists, youth, and other community members in creative exchange. Working one-on-one and in ensembles, participants develop original works that incorporate music, movement, and multimedia to explore the richness of all stages of life.

After many months of collaboration, the pieces are performed in a public concert by professional musicians, local choirs, and artists of all ages.

Through witnessing our elders’ songs and stories, we connect around what we share as opposed to what separates us, we bless and heal the past, and we hold our elders and the dying in their potential rather than their decline.


In addition to public performances and scalable concerts, Lifesongs provides free and public facilitated dialogues on death and dying with community partners. In 2015, Lifesongs launched the Story Gathering project. 

The Story Gathering project brings youth, community members, and elders together to share stories and life experiences. Participants collaboratively shape stories into new works of writing and art to present to the wider community. 

While deepening its roots in northern New Mexico, Lifesongs is carefully fostering and mentoring projects in other communities around the country.

Got something cool you tried that was successful? Share the inspiration. You can also post them to our Intergenerational Connections Facebook Group. We want to highlight innovative age-optimized programs and practices through our blog, social media and weekly e-newsletter!

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Journalist Remembers Growing Up in Grandfamily - #IGinspirations

EDITOR'S NOTE: #IGinspirations is a new series we started that features stories people have about their grandparents. 

Journalist Tammy Trujillo, host of the award-winning Community Cares show, remembers being raised by her grandparents. (Part 1)

My Grandmother, who with my Grandfather took care of me much of my childhood, was badly injured in a car accident when I was in high school. She ended up in a convalescent home. 

My Grandfather had already passed. I would go to visit her with my mother, but as most teenagers would, I hated going there. It was not a nice place and there was nothing to really do there.

Over the years, her eyesight and hearing failed and she began to suffer from dementia. So communication became increasingly difficult. I rarely went to see her....but I did go - alone - one day in my late 20s. 

She didn't realize who I was. She thought I was the nurse's aide and proceeded to want to talk about her Granddaughter....me! 

She told me how proud she was of her Granddaughter, how she had finished college and was now a successful radio personality. She talked about what a hard childhood I had had because of my stepfather and how she had felt bad for me and always tried to help. 

It was amazing because I didn't know that, before dementia set in, she had actually been following my career.

She spoke for about 20 minutes. I worked very hard to keep her from realizing that I was crying. When she finally finished, I thanked her - still in the guise of the nurse's aide - for telling me about her wonderful Granddaughter. 

She smiled and was quiet.

Passing the other bed in the room as I went to leave, the woman in it called me over. Quietly, she told me she had not meant to eavesdrop but had heard all that my Grandmother had said and asked if I was the Granddaughter. 

She explained what a great gift I had just been given to know just how much my Grandmother loved and cared about me.

Do you have an #IGinspirations story? Share it with us. 

Monday, November 14, 2016

Stoughton Community Garden

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.

This week's cool idea is the Stoughton Community Garden in Massachusetts, started by the Stoughton Youth Commission.

(Check our archives for parts 1-86 | non-archived: 1, 2, 3,4, 5, 6 and 7)

There are currently 10 garden plots tended by 10 groups of garden partners (made up of youth, seniors, and family members working together).

The idea blossomed when the town decided to place the Stoughton Youth Commission under the same roof at the Stoughton Council on Aging.

Got something cool you tried that was successful? Share the inspiration. You can also post them to our Intergenerational Connections Facebook Group. We want to highlight innovative age-optimized programs and practices through our blog, social media and weekly e-newsletter!

Friday, November 11, 2016

Every Child Needs a Family

by Jaia Peterson Lent, deputy executive director at Generations United

(This article first appeared in GRAND Magazine.)

For the majority of children in the U.S. gifts and family may seem almost synonymous with the holidays. But for the more than 55,000 children and youth in the U.S. foster care system who are living in group homes, the gift of family feels largely out of reach. One in seven children under the care of the child welfare system is placed in a group setting, even though more than 40 percent of these children have no documented clinical or behavioral needs that warrant placing them in group settings without families.

Every child needs a family and research shows they do best when that family is headed by a grandparent or other relative. Compared to children in group care and those in foster care with non-relatives, children in foster care with grandparents or other relatives have more stable lives, better behavioral and mental health, and are less likely to run away. Perhaps most importantly, they are most likely to report they “always feel loved.”

But the child welfare system is not set up to provide the necessary outreach, supports and services grandparents and other relatives need when they step in to raise children.

Bob Ruble of California understands well the importance of supporting relatives to keep children with family and out of group care. Bob explains, “My sister had many life issues and had been making poor and unsafe decisions while raising her daughter, my niece. When my niece was 8, I made the call my sister was arrested. My niece was removed from her care and placed in group home care. I assumed I was done. The next day I got the call and was asked to have her placed with me. There was no one else who could and I was told if I said no then she would be placed with a stranger in foster care so I stepped in to care for her. My journey began and I was left with little direction on how to proceed on my own.”

Yet Bob was fortunate in many ways. He had a steady income and was able to handle the financial issues until additional resources were made available and he had the stamina to track down the elusive information and support he and his niece needed.

In contrast, of the 2.6 million grandparents responsible for grandchildren across the country, more than one in five lives below the poverty line. Twenty-six percent of them have a disability and are juggling their own health care needs in addition to the needs of the children. The vast majority do not have supports or do not know how to access the supports and services that are available to them.

In the midst of this holiday season, Congress has the opportunity to give the gift of a safe and loving family to children who cannot remain with their parents. Bipartisan legislation called the Family First Prevention Services Act passed the House of Representatives in June. The legislation would prioritize families for children and reform federal child welfare financing so that those funds could be used for supportive services to grandparents and other relatives to help keep children with them and out of foster care when possible. But the Senate left for recess in September without passing the bill. Even following a divisive and contentious election season, the importance of supporting families for children is something elected officials on both sides of the aisle can agree on. They simply need to make it a priority and get it done when they reconvene for a lame duck session in November.

And if they do, Bob, who has gone on to become a spokesperson and advocate for children being raised by relatives, will highlight for them what the gift of family can mean in the life of a child. Now age 22, Bob’s niece, Kindra, is attending Fullerton College and is pursuing a major in art and a minor in psychology. He is so proud of her and reports that she is an amazingly talented artist and an equally skilled writer. Lately, she has been talking with Bob about plans to write her story about how important it was for her to remain with family. When she shares it, she hopes it may help others this holiday season understand what family has meant to her. A true gift.

Tuesday, November 08, 2016

Five & Fit

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.

This week's cool idea is the Five & Fit program in California, which is based on a model from Temple University, older adults (age 55+) guide young pre-schoolers (ages 2 - 5) and their families toward improved nutrition and enhanced physical activity.

(Check our archives for parts 1-85 | non-archived: 1, 2, 3,4, 5, 6and 7)

Activities include gardening, tasting fruits and vegetables, and fun nutritional education. 

The mission of the program is to prevent childhood obesity and to promote healthy, active, life-long behaviors. 

The program is a collaboration between Aging & Independence Services (the County of San Diego's Area Agency on Aging) and the Cuyamaca College Child Development Center.

Got something cool you tried that was successful? Share the inspiration. You can also post them to our Intergenerational Connections Facebook Group. We want to highlight innovative age-optimized programs and practices through our blog, social media and weekly e-newsletter!

Wednesday, October 05, 2016

Legacy Book Projects

Click the image to expand.
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.

Legacy Books is an intergenerational project that brings Baltimore's young and old together to produce e-books. The older adults share their stories that student capture and put online.

"We find that the combination of youth with tech knowledge and elders with stories is a match made in heaven," said Beatrice Odom Scott, founder of the Legacy Books project and a digital publishing consultant. "We have a number of Legacy Book projects in Baltimore including the ZHAP program at the Zeta Center and at local schools."

Young and old working together to capture and share stories has been good for restoring dignity and self-value for many families, especially those from disadvantaged communities.

But Annette Saunders, of Baltimore Grandfamilies PTSA, noted that the project offers something else.

"The books have become family treasures," she explained. "Two of the grandparents [who participated] have died, and both families expressed how glad they are to have the story books."

Annette also cherishes her own.

"My husband and I made one for our first grandson," she explained, adding that the first grader enjoys reading their story from cover to cover.

Annette hopes to get funding for another group of grandfamilies - those from Sandtown, Park Heights and Poplar Grove - what she calls three of the cities "really challenging communities."

Annette sings the Legacy Book project's praises wherever she goes. Of her experience, she added: "It is so rewarding!"

Contact Beatrice O. Scott for more info on Legacy Books.

Tuesday, October 04, 2016

Family First Act Next Steps

Generations United is deeply disappointed that the Senate left for recess in September without passing the Family First Prevention Services Act.

While the bill didn’t pass, your voices have been heard. We had overwhelming participation and heroic engagement from you, especially in the last few weeks.

More than 400 organizations from every state in the nation urged their support for the groundbreaking legislation which would have fundamentally changed federal support for child welfare in this country, offering much-needed support for grandfamilies both inside and outside the child welfare system. 

Individuals and organizations supporting children, youth and caregivers in grandfamilies, birth parents, foster youth, doctors, judges, child welfare agencies, substance abuse treatment programs, and mental health providers joined together to speak up about the importance of keeping children with family and providing them with quality supports and services they need to help children thrive.

With such a showing of support, Congress will be hard- pressed to pass a major piece of child welfare legislation in the future that doesn’t include strong provisions for grandfamilies.

We will not give up. We will speak louder.

Please take time to thank the senators who cosponsored the bill and all members of the House of Representatives who passed the bill by unanimous consent in June. And urge them to continue to stand for grandfamilies.

Thank you for your incredible work and commitment to our children, caregivers and families.

Monday, October 03, 2016

TimeOut@UCLA - 2016 Programs of Distinction Designee

TimeOut@UCLA trains and mobilizes undergraduate students to interact and provide companionship to elders with early-stage Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia while providing respite for family caregivers. 

UCLA students, who are trained before the first session on how to appropriately interact with patients living with Alzheimer's and dementia, are recruited to meet with seniors at a senior center for three hours, twice a week. 

All students in the program are trained before the first session on how to appropriately interact with Alzheimer’s and dementia patients.

During a nine-month period, 50 students provided companionship for 26 seniors, totaling 1,593 hours of respite for caregivers. 

Activities are led by two activities coordinators (students) who are specially trained for this role. 

Some group activities include Bingo, dancing, and stretching. Individual activities include coloring, card games, paintings, scrabble, and conversation.

By pairing seniors and students based on similar interests, careers, and hobbies, TimeOut@UCLA provides a community-based intergenerational companionship and respite service that promotes positive views of working with the elderly among college students.

In addition, the seniors, who have many years of career experience,provide mentorship to the students. 

For example, a student who wants to be a physician can be matched up with a senior who formerly worked as a physician and can provide insight on different career paths in medicine or their experience working as a doctor.

Learn more about our 2016 Programs of Distinction designees!

Monday, September 26, 2016

P&J Beacon Buddies Program - 2016 Programs of Distinction Designee

The P&J Beacon Buddies Program provides supervised intergenerational activities, group discussions and community service.

The program also offers family engagement, and support services involving youth enrolled in Phipps Neighborhoods P&J Beacon (primarily middle school ages) and senior members/ residents in Throggs Neck, NY.

Activities include talent shows, games, mental skills-building exercises, vocational exploration, and service learning projects.

The mission of P&J Beacon Buddies Program is to foster a nurturing connection between youth and senior members of Throggs Neck that promotes awareness, appreciation and respect for all involved in the program.

Lutheran Home Intergenerational Program

The Lutheran Home has an infant through four-year-old child care center, an Adult Day program, skilled nursing units, short-term rehab and Memory Care Assisted Living.


Residents and participants at the Lutheran Home are lovingly called "grandfriends" by the children in our childcare.

Through the intergenerational program, grandfriends and children work together to take on new and creative roles that emphasize the strengths of the individuals as well as the group.

The programs enhance social skills, problem-solving and fine/gross motor development. With projects tailored for successful outcomes, the children and grandfriends can proudly take ownership of their finished work as well as their roles in the achievements.

Sages & Seekers - 2016 Programs of Distinction Designee

Sages & Seekers is a one-to-one, Senior-to-Student experiential learning program designed to
diminish ageism, as well as revitalize interpersonal interactions.

Meeting once a week over the course of the 8-week program, the participants are paired off to embark on a journey of social and emotional development through authentic, meaningful conversation.

Both age groups come away from the experience with an improved sense of self-esteem, a greater capacity for empathy, and recognition of the worth of others as well as their own personal value. 

This program deconstructs the barriers separating these two marginalized sections of our society while empowering the participants and building community.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Coalition of Foster Youth, Family Advocates and Human Services Leaders Urge Action on the Family First Prevention Services Act



For Immediate Release:                                                                                                                                 
September 19, 2016

Media Contact:
Manny Rivera
323-892-2080

Coalition of Foster Youth, Family Advocates and Human Services Leaders Urge Action on the Family First Prevention Services Act
Groups Call on Senate to Embrace Once-in-a-Generation Opportunity to Reorient the Nation’s Child Welfare System

Washington, DC- Today, a coalition of foster youth, family advocates and health and human services leaders issued a joint statement urging immediate action on the Family First Prevention Services Act of 2016 (“Family First Act”), a bipartisan, revenue-neutral bill that would help orient the nation’s child welfare system toward keeping families together and give new tools to improve the lives of millions of children and their families. Children and their families deserve these life changing improvements. The Family First Act would put families first by:

·         Keeping children safely in their families by investing in evidence-based programs and promising practices, such as parental substance abuse treatment, mental health services, and in-home training, that can prevent child abuse and neglect.
·         Supporting extended family members caring for children who would otherwise go into foster care.
·         Prioritizing placement of children with families and ensuring that children receive the most appropriate clinical services to help them heal and thrive.

The Family First Act passed unanimously in the U.S. House of Representatives and has the support of over 400 agencies and nonprofit organizations across the child welfare and family support space. Additionally, hundreds of foster youth and alumni of foster care, along with advocates for children and families, have expressed their strong support. However, despite overwhelming bi-partisan and bi-cameral support, with less than a week before Congress recesses for the fall, the Senate has yet to consider this landmark and transformative piece of legislation.

Alliance for Strong Families and Communities, FosterClub, Generations United and The National Alliance of Children's Trust and Prevention Funds issued the following joint statement supporting the Family First Act and urgently calling for action in the Senate:

“For the first time in generations, we have an unprecedented opportunity to re-orient our child welfare system to be more proactive and preventative. Unfortunately, that opportunity will evaporate by the end of this month if Congress fails to take action before leaving for fall recess.

“The Family First Act would usher in a new era of child welfare: one that youth and families have been urging for decades where we invest resources to keep families together, whenever possible, rather than tear them apart. Hearing these cries from those served by the child welfare system led to the overwhelmingly bipartisan Family First Act. The act will address a critical flaw in our current federal child welfare financing system by prioritizing services that help children remain safely with their families. By supporting families facing challenges, such as drug addiction and mental health issues, we can address problems earlier and prevent the need to place children in foster care with unrelated persons. By providing critical resources for more birth parents and extended families to care for children, we can ensure children have the stability they need for healthy brain development.
“Continuing the status quo is unacceptable.  In the three months since the House of Representatives unanimously approved the Family First Act, more than 33,000 children have been removed from their families and placed into foster care. Due to developments in neuroscience, we now know that the trauma suffered by children removed from their families has life-long ripple effects on brain development. The Family First Act would provide supportive services to children, parents and caregivers in their home, ensuring thousands of children could remain safely with their families.  The time is now to align federal child welfare spending with what we know is best for kids.
“Critics point out that the Family First Act does not include every provision we had hoped for. The reality is no bill is ever perfect. The work of Congress is incremental.  Each child welfare bill Congress passes builds on the next in our nation’s journey to meet the needs of our children.    The Family First Act is about breaking ground and laying the foundation for a critical culture shift. The Family First Act will provide the biggest step forward in federal child welfare policy since we abandoned orphanages decades ago, and we have a moral obligation to not squander this opportunity. If Congress does not act now to strengthen and invest in our nation’s families, we will lose the best opportunity in a generation to improve the safety and success of millions of vulnerable children. We owe it to our nation’s children and their families to do everything we can to ensure they receive the tools and resources they need to strengthen and keep families together. The opportunity to act is now.”

The funding that would make the Family First Act possible will become unavailable after September 30th. If Congress does not act before reaching agreement on the Continuing Resolution to keep the government open, $400 million of the bill’s funding will be allocated elsewhere. Additional funding will be unavailable during a lame duck session, and even if it were available, the Congressional Budget Office would have to re-score the legislation next year, resulting in significant delays.

Supporters across the board believe the Family First Act actively upholds our country’s value of putting families first. With the fall Congressional recess set to begin as early as the end of this week, the time to act is now.

To learn more about the Family First Prevention Services Act of 2016, click here.

Friday, September 16, 2016

Easter Seals Intergenerational Program – 2016 Programs of Distinction Designee

Easter Seals Serving DC|MD|VA Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Inter-generational Center has created an intergenerational program, in keeping with community mission, that is impactful, innovative and educational.

When opposite generations engage, people are able to have more enriching experiences of autonomy, tolerance, acceptance, patience, caring and nurturing.

All participants are given the opportunity to improve their cognitive ability. The activities help them work on social and emotional, language, literacy and behavioral skills.

More overtly, the program creates lasting friendship.

Their Center improves the quality of life for participants of all age by providing an opportunity for intergenerational engagement.

Learn more about our 2016 Programs of Distinction designees!

Bridges Program Curriculum Suite – 2016 Programs of Distinction Designee

The award-winning, evidence-based Bridges Program Curricula Suite unites older adults and children in their communities for shared experiences and cooperative learning.

Adults (generally aged 60+) volunteer in a classroom, library or community center once a week for several weeks. Under the guidance of the teacher or trained staff, the volunteers work in pairs to facilitate small groups of students for meaningful discussion and fun activities.

The Bridges Program Curricula Suite includes four programs for preschoolers through high schoolers that support the Common Core standards.

Over the past 25 years, nearly 15,000 members of bookend generations have been impacted by Bridges.

Learn more about our 2016 Programs of Distinction designees!



Wednesday, September 07, 2016

3 Great Reasons To Record Your Stories This Grandparents Day



by Chris Cummings, Founder of Pass It Down

“After nourishment, shelter and companionship, stories are the thing we need most in the world.” ~Philip Pullman

Thirty-eight years ago, President Carter signed the proclamation to declare the first Sunday after Labor Day National Grandparents Day. National Grandparents Day, which is observed by millions around the country, stands for three purposes: 1) to honor grandparents, 2) to give grandparents an opportunity to show love for their children’s children, and 3) to help children become aware of the strength, information and guidance older people can offer.

There is no better way to fulfill the mission behind National Grandparents Day than through recording your family stories.

Here are three reasons why recording your family stories using Pass It Down fulfills the mission of National Grandparents Day:


1. Storytelling honors grandparents by capturing their legacy

Storytelling honors grandparents by commemorating the important moments of their lives. Every person has a story worth telling and preserving both for themselves and their family. By capturing your grandparent’s stories you are honoring their legacy and preserving it for all time. There is no greater loss than a story that is not captured.


2. A grandparent capturing their memories is the greatest gift they can leave their grandchildren

A grandparent capturing their stories is showing the ultimate love for their grandchildren by passing down all the lessons they have learned throughout their lives. Every once in a while I meet someone who says, “I don’t have a story worth sharing.” Yes you do. Every person has a story worth telling and even the memories that may seem small and trivial to you will be incredibly valuable and important to your grandchildren someday. When a grandparent captures their stories, they are setting up their grandchildren and future generations for success through the sharing of their life lessons.

3. Stories are the best way to reach children today

Sitting down and sharing family stories is one of the best things you can do to bring your family closer together. In a world of smartphones, kids today are often too busy focusing on Snapchat, instagram, or the latest videogame to spend time with their families. By taking the time to tell stories with your grandchildren, you can break through the tech barrier and unite your family. Kids crave stories and a grandparent sharing their life experiences is a wonderful way to spark your grandchild’s imagination and inspire them to want to know more about their roots.

Share your story today using Pass It Down at www.passitdown.com. We are a free storytelling
platform that makes it simple and fun to capture your family stories.


About the author: Imagine if you could go back and hear and see your loved ones speak about their life. Chris Cummings, Founder & CEO, established Pass It Down to help people capture their family stories after his mother developed early on-set dementia at the age of 48. Pass It Down is an award-winning digital storytelling platform that is the best way for people everywhere to capture their life stories and share those with friends, family and the world.

You can reach Chris at Chris@passitdown.com.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

All The Difference




by Monique McIntyre

This year, on Sept. 12, PBS will air All The Difference, a documentary from Academy Award-nominated filmmaker Tod Lending, Joy Thomas Moore and Wes Moore.

(Check your local listing.)

The documentary follows the stories of Robert Henderson and Krishaun Branch as they fight to survive in the Englewood section on the South Side of Chicago. It shows the ups and downs of each young man’s education, as well as the powerful impact of one grandmother’s support.

For Robert, his fight started early. When he was just 17 months old, his father killed his mother. In that crucial time, his grandmother, Ona Mae Gooch, became his lifeline. 

However, at 62, Ona was tired. With only the last four of her 17 children at home, she had just finally started to see a slower life for herself. She worried about having to start over with such young children, but she knew Robert and his six siblings needed her. 

She knew she would do whatever it took to provide a good life for her family. As such, she decided to take them in and help grow their lives.


Raising her grandchildren was going to be a challenge, but she knew she could handle it. Ona was no stranger to hardship. 

She grew up as a sharecropper in Mississippi, where she picked cotton and had to leave school in the 5th grade. Around 30, Ona decided to leave her abusive husband and move with her children to Chicago. 

Once there, she continued to farm on any patch of land she could find. She tended, supported, nourished and helped her garden thrive, much in the way she did with her family. In particular, her strength and effort helped Robert succeed.

After graduating from an all-male college prep high school, Robert went on to pursue secondary education at Lake Forrest College. During one semester, he struggled in a chemistry class and sought out help from his professor. 

In one meeting the professor told Robert the hardest part of his success would be staying motivated. Robert quickly jumped in and told her his “motivation isn’t the problem. I won’t give up,” he said. “My grandmother didn’t give up on me… so why should I give up on myself?”


Robert's drive, which his grandmother instilled in him, helped push him to finish college.

Ona has been there for all of Robert’s accomplishments. Towards the beginning of the film, he and Ona are shown sitting at the kitchen table while she goes through a box of old items. 
“Look at this junk I’ve got,” Ona says, handing Robert a piece of browned paper. 
“That’s not junk,” Robert chuckles.
She had handed him his kindergarten diploma. 
“I keep this stuff for you to show your children one day,” Ona says.
As a high school and now college graduate who’s teaching math in middle school in Colorado, Robert has a lot of “junk” to show his future children. And he owes a lot of that success to his grandmother, Ona, who made a difference in his life.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Camp Pickett

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.


Pickett Care and Rehabilitation Center
This week's cool idea is Camp Pickett, a program of the Pickett Care and Rehabilitation Center in Byrdstown, TN. Through learning circles and other team activities, this summer camp nurtures relationships between children who attend the camp and Pickett Care's elder residents.

(Check our archives for parts 1-83 | non-archived: 1, 2, 3,4, 5, 6 and 7)

Serving as an alternative child care service to help offset expenses for Pickett Care's employees, Camp Pickett started in 2008 to help enhance quality of life for the elders in the home.

The program was featured in McKnight's Long-term Care News article, "Driving out loneliness through intergenerational relationships," from which this excerpt was pulled.

As the summer progressed, something magical happened: elders and children taught each other great things.

Elders passed down their wisdom in gardening, farming, and other things on to the children, while the children were able to teach the Elders how to use the Nintendo Wii and text on a cell phone.

Camp Pickett morphed into a community all its own. In the first summer alone, elders, who were previously depressed and refused to come out of their room, were living a new lifestyle of purpose and enhanced well-being overall.

Staff members saved over $18,000 in childcare expenses, and the home logged the equivalent of over $5,000 in volunteer hours. Not only was Camp Pickett a success, it was a new standard for intergenerational relationships for the entire company.

Got something cool you tried that was successful? Share the inspiration. You can also post them to our Intergenerational Connections Facebook Group. We want to highlight innovative age-optimized programs and practices through our blog, social media and weekly e-newsletter!

Tuesday, August 09, 2016

Mind the Gap

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.



This week's cool idea is Mind the Gap: Intergenerational Theatre Workshop, which helps foster meaningful dialogue among artists and audiences of diverse backgrounds and generations.

(Check our archives for parts 1-82 | non-archived: 1, 2, 3,4, 5, 6 and 7)

Mind the Gap is a free workshop in which half of the participants are elders ages 60 and up and half are teenagers ages 14-19. Workshops are held twice per season at the New York Theatre Workshop (NYTW) as well as in residence at multiple community partner locations around New York City.

Over the course of 10 sessions, participants work in pairs to interview each other and write plays inspired by their partner’s personal stories. Each workshop culminates with an invited presentation in which participants’ work is read aloud by professional actors.

NYTW holds sessions of Mind the Gap in the Summer (July-August) and Fall (October-December).

Got something cool you tried that was successful? Share the inspiration. You can also post them to our Intergenerational Connections Facebook Group. We want to highlight innovative age-optimized programs and practices through our blog, social media and weekly e-newsletter!

Tuesday, August 02, 2016

Simone Biles - GrAND Success Story

HoustoniaMag.com
by Carolyn Walsh

To say that Simone Biles is an excellent gymnast would be an understatement. At 19, she is already touted as being the greatest gymnast in history, and she certainly has the resume to support it.

Her career accomplishments include being the first female gymnast in history to win three consecutive world title championships and holding the record for the most world championship gold medals won by a female athlete. 

At the Rio Olympics, Simone will have the chance to establish her world greatness as she leads the U.S. Women’s team to hopeful victory. In the midst of growing attention and pressure, the two people most important people in Simone’s life – her grandparents, Ron and Nellie Biles – are there for her to lean on.

In fact, they raised Simone, who’s been calling them “mom” and “dad” for most of her life. When her biological mother started using hard drugs and alcohol, Ron and Nellie intervened, traveling from their home in Houston, Texas, to Columbus, Ohio, to get their grandchildren out of foster care. 

When an attempt to reunite their grandchildren with their birth mother failed, Ron and Nellie decided to officially adopt then 5-year-old Simone and her 3-year-old sister, Adria. Simone’s two older siblings were adopted by Ron’s relative.

Mr. Firefox Gym
Ron, a retired air traffic controller, and Nellie, a former nurse who now co-owns a chain of nursing homes in Texas, sent their two sons off to college, anticipating an empty nest.

Nowhere did their plans include becoming parents all over again. But they adjusted. Nellie said her “heart just made room” to love her new daughters just as much as her own sons.

As Simone’s grandparents strove to provide a loving, stable and structured home for their granddaughters, they created the perfect environment for the young women to blossom and work towards their goals. 

When Simone was 6, Ron and Nellie enrolled her in a day care class that exposed her to gymnastics. It was there she caught the eye of her current head coach, Aimee Boorman.

It was Ron and Nellie’s support that allowed Simon to pursue her passion for gymnastics. Simone had to make a choice between staying in public school and being homeschooled in order to train full time as a gymnast. 

Chron.com
Ron and Nellie didn’t make the decision for her. When Simone decided the latter, her grandparents built a brand new gym for her to train at in Spring, Texas.

Although Simone didn’t get her athletic gifts from her grandparents, what they gave her was just as special. The values they instilled in Simone – determination, humility and an appreciation of the small, good things in life – helped carry Simone this far. 

Another thing she treasures is family dinner every Sunday night.

When Simone Biles makes her Olympic debut, the world will be captivated and inspired by her extraordinary talent, one made truly possible by the love and support of her grandparents.

Sources:
http://www.kansascity.com/sports/olympics/article86491112.html#0
http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2016/05/30/simone-biles-is-the-best-gymnast-in-the-world
http://time.com/4352599/simone-biles-next-generation-leaders/

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

The Rachel Carson Intergenerational Sense of Wonder/Wild Contest

by Barbara Yoffee, M.S.ED, advisor at the Rachel Carson Landmark Alliance, Sense of Wonder/Wild Contest

The real wealth of the nation lies in the resources of the earth: soil, water, forests, minerals and wildlife. To utilize them for future generations requires a delicately balanced and continuing program based on the most extensive research.

Those words ring as true today as they did when Rachel Carson wrote them in a 1953 Washington Post Letter to the Editor.

The marine biologist and conservationist took any opportunity to teach all ages about the wonder and beauty of the living world.

In her book, The Sense of Wonder, she wrote that the greatest gift to a child is “a sense of wonder so indestructible that it would last throughout life.” However, to keep that inborn sense of wonder alive, a child “needs the companionship of at least one adult who can share it."

Keeping Carson’s legacy alive, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) started The Rachel Carson Intergenerational Sense of Wonder Contest in 2006, which celebrates the intergenerational appreciation of nature in photos, essays, song, poetry, mixed media and dance.

Entries are from an intergenerational team (youth and elder) of two or more people.

The EPA ran the contest for seven years until the Rachel Carson Landmark Alliance took it over. This is our third year sponsoring the contest.

The annual event is important to us because the RCLA’s mission is to continue Carson’s work of teaching all ages to appreciate nature.

That appreciation hits home with Carson’s grand-nephew.

He was 20 months old, according to The Sense of Wonder, when his grand-aunt (considered to be the “mother of the environmental movement”) took him down to the beach to hear the thundering waves as they threw handfuls of forth at them.

They laughed for joy together as the ocean and the dark night roared around them. When I met him several years ago, as a man in his 50s, he said he’s still excited by the ocean.


During our time of running the contest, we received a surprise entry in the artwork category. A large group of youth and their mentors in Mozambique worked together on a village project about life and sea animals.

They created a large mural and posted it in the village center for all to admire. Learn about our other winners on our website.

If you haven’t read The Sense of Wonder, check it out and let it inspire you to express your sense of wonder with someone from another generation.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Meet Sydney Franklin

From kindergarten to eighth grade, I was a giddy little Texas girl every time the last school bell sounded at the end of each school year. It meant two things: 1) school was out and 2) I was heading east to spend two months with my grandparents. 

Before my sister and I got to high school, and our schedules became demanding year-round, we visited our grandparents in a small town out in East Texas.

My grandmother taught my sister and me how to braid and sew; and thanks to my grandfather, I could manage money and drive a tractor better than any other 10-year-old I knew.

My grandparents still live on the same 20 acres, happily growing fruits and vegetables, raising horses, playing scrabble, and mentoring young boys in the community to their hearts’ content.

My intergenerational relationship with my grandparents is what makes this summer internship with Generations United exciting.

As a Junior majoring in Sociology at Westminster College in Fulton, MO, I love studying people and their life experiences; where they come from, what their intended destination is, how we all interact and how we can work together for a common goal.

For three decades, Generations United has been the catalyst for policies and practices stimulating cooperation and collaboration among generations, evoking the vibrancy, energy and sheer  productivity that result when people of all ages come together.

As a summer intern, I look forward to working on the Online Resource Guide, 2016 State of Grandfamilies Report and the Intergenerational Program Database.

Bridges Program Curricula Suite

PHOTO: Courtesy of Bridges Together
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.

This week's cool idea is the Bridges Program Curricula Suite - a set of four ready-made intergenerational programs - to help communities unite older adults and children through shared experiences and cooperative learning.

(Check our archives for parts 1-82 | non-archived: 1, 2, 3,4, 5 and 6)

Over the past 25 years, nearly 15,000 members of bookend generations have been impacted by the Bridges program. The award-winning, evidence-based Bridges Program Curricula Suite unites older adults and children in their communities for shared experiences and cooperative learning.

Adults (generally aged 60+) volunteer in a classroom, library or community center once a week for several weeks. Under the guidance of the teacher or trained staff, the volunteers work in pairs to facilitate small groups of students for meaningful discussion and fun activities.

The Bridges Program Curricula Suite – a set of four ready-made intergenerational programs for communities who want a proven and complete curriculum— are based on human development theories.

Bridges: Our Stories, for preschoolers, uses picture books as the theme; Bridges: Growing Together, for elementary-aged youth, allows participants to explore family histories and cultural touchstones; Bridges: Our Smarts, for middle schoolers, explores the multiple intelligences theory using nature as the theme for each session; and Bridges: Lifelong Journeys, for high schoolers, lets participants delve into topics including recognizing one’s culture, understanding the lifespan, managing finances and using technology responsibly.  

To see a video showing the Bridges program in action as well as information on two webinars designed for people interested in bringing Bridges to their communities, click here.

Got something cool you tried that was successful? Share the inspiration. You can also post them to our Intergenerational Connections Facebook Group. We want to highlight innovative age-optimized programs and practices through our blog, social media and weekly e-newsletter!

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Intergenerational Fun Activities

San Diego County-2011 Spring Intergenerational Hula Hoop
by Monique McIntyre

We could be at a birthday party or cookout. Any time we get together with family outside of our household, my brother will find a way for us all to play Catch Phrase.

This game is played in two teams with each member taking turns being the clue-giver. Through verbal clues and physical gestures, they hint at the word on the device screen for their teammates to guess. When the team guesses correctly, the clue-giver passes off the device before the buzzer stops.

This game, a staple in our family gatherings, is great for laughs.

That memory was sparked during Generations United's bi-weekly staff meeting, which is always started with an ice breaker.

This week’s: What is your favorite family activity that is fun for all generations?

The following activities are ideas for intergenerational family fun.

Every evening after work, our Communications Specialist Alan King relaxes by going for a walk around the neighborhood with his family.

Those moments for him are a great way to spend time with his wife, mother-in-law, 6-month old daughter and their dog. The walks help him focus less on work and more on the simple pleasures in life.

Another simple pleasure is duck pin bowling. Our Deputy Executive Director Jaia Peterson Lent plays this with her husband and son.

This kind of bowling includes small pins and balls that allow all ages to participate.

One of the best parts about bowling is the period in between turns, when you might do a bit of friendly trash talking, laughing and sharing stories.

The latter is what our Policy and Program Assistant Adam Otto enjoys each Sunday he plays bridge with his grandmother and her friends.

He looks forward to those games because it’s a great time for him and his grandmother to talk and spend time together.

Adam Hlava, our operations and grants manager, looked back on his family trips to their cabin.

He described the experience as a dream. There's a lake, paddle boats, family pets and bonfires where he and his cousins would try to out scare each other.

Adam says it was a nice way to bring his family together for a getaway full of unstructured fun.

Just then, our Program Manager Emily Patrick smiled. 

She was reminiscing about her annual family vacations that included a family talent show - one with yodeling grandparents, magic acts, stand-up comedy, and Spice Girls dance numbers performed by Emily and her cousins.

Talent shows are great because they create the opportunity for family members in each generation to show off what they got.

At family BBQs, Carolyn Walsh – who, like me, is a summer intern – says her family shows what they got in old vs young basketball and their family trivia game.

She enjoys swimming in the pool as her grandparents watch. But the trivia game, based on family history, is her favorite.

Her uncle heads it up and creates slide shows with questions about their grandparents or other family members. The family splits into teams. On Carolyn’s, she says her mother is always their champion.

We’ve shared our favorite intergeneration activities. Now, tell us about yours!

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Kairos Alive!

Kairos Alive!
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.


This week's cool idea, Minneapolis-based Kairos Alive!, works to promote engagement, health maintenance and prevention, and connections to community for older generations.

(Check our archives for parts 1-81 | non-archived: 1, 2, 3,4, 5 and 6)

Kairos Alive!
Under Kairos Alive! is the Kairos Alive! Performance Troupe.

This troupe is an intergenerational group that uses dance and storytelling to create a sense of community and well-being in participants of all ages and walks of life.

Kairos Alive! Performance Group members span generations, ranging in age from 4 to 100. The Performance Troupe presents 10-12 performances annually featuring works from their past shows, and pieces created in collaboration with partners.

The goal of the Kairos Alive! Troupe is to bring dance into the community in order to connect with audiences in traditional and non-traditional venues.

Kairos Alive!
Their work draws upon many forms of modern dance, movement improvisation, folk dance, music, song, theater, poetry and oral history traditions from around the world. Kairos Alive! Performance Troupe is the only intergenerational modern dance theater company in Minnesota, and one of only a handful in the U.S.

This program is inspiring because their intergenerational, intercultural performances – which are performed at schools, nursing homes, museums, parks, community centers and formal performance spaces – deliver a vision of what community can be: all ages, all backgrounds, all abilities — dancing together.

Got something cool you tried that was successful? Share the inspiration. You can also post them to our Intergenerational Connections Facebook Group. We want to highlight innovative age-optimized programs and practices through our blog, social media and weekly e-newsletter!

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

How to Use Pokémon Go to Strengthen Intergenerational Relationships


by Monique McIntyre

Pokémon Go has taken over. The game launched this past Thursday and is now one of the most downloaded apps ever. So, for those people like myself who know nothing about this universe and have not downloaded the app, here’s a quick breakdown of what it’s all about.

The game combines the popular Pokémon world with GPS. This allows fans (also known as trainers) to venture out into the real world and catch Pokémon, or pocket monsters, inside capsules called Pokéballs. Using a smartphone trainers scan their surrounding area to locate Pokémon and catch them by throwing the Pokéballs at them.

Okay, now that we’re all caught up, here is why even those of us who may not be interested in the game should take a second look. This app could be a big step to bringing the generations together.

Combined with Generations United Take Action Guide here are a few ways to make the most intergenerational use of Pokémon Go.

1. Stay Active. Although we love our technology, it doesn’t always translate to an active lifestyle. And by “doesn’t always,” I mean almost never. By making people walk this app can help change that. One of the hardest parts about starting an active lifestyle is the starting part. Trust me I should know. I’ve almost ran 3 miles 4 times this week. This app makes it fun and easy to get your exercise. Kids and older adults alike can use this app to get out of the house and start getting active.

2. Take a Tour of Your Town. What better way to explore your area and spend time together than by catching Pokémon and scoring Pokéballs. You can visit parks, churches, museums, local land marks and possibly discover a great new picnic area or hidden nature trail. During this time you can have important conversations, share memories, learn about each other and ultimately get closer.

3. Volunteer. Combine the use of the app with a great volunteer opportunity such as cleaning up your local park. Catch Squirtle (don’t worry I had to look it up too) while you are picking up litter or clearing paths. Level up on the game while leveling up the appearance of your neighborhood park. Sounds like a win-win to me.

4. Keep Each Other Safe. One of the major concerns with the new app is that it has the potential be dangerous. Reinforce with kids and adults that everyone should be safe and alert at all times. Some kids maybe out walking alone, and could venture off farther than they should. An easy way to solve this problem is to have someone go with them. Someone like a grandparent. Having a grandparent around means they can go farther and catch more all while staying safe.

5. Making Connections: Once you get started, you are bound to see other people playing Pokémon Go. Now’s the perfect time to strike up a conversation and build intergenerational connections in the community. Ask questions, share tips, or direct people to a nearby wild Pikachu (the yellow one J).

Let us know if you try Pokémon Go with your grandparents, grandkids, or grandfriends and which rare Pokémon you were able to catch!

Monday, July 11, 2016

linkAges

(Credit: PAMF Innovation Center) A linkAges member assists an elder 
with a computer for a linkAges Tech Day at Stevenson House, an 
affordable housing community, in Palo Alto.
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.

This week's cool idea, linkAges is an online network that connects people of all ages and empowers individuals to improve each other's health by providing opportunities for meaningful connections.

(Check our archives for parts 1-81 | non-archived: 1, 2, 3,4, 5 and 6)

The program, featured in the Santa Cruz Sentinel, helps connect people of all ages through an exchange system that relies on abilities and interests.

The Sentinel article shows that through the story of Lynda Hyndman, an Australian-born Canadian who moved to Silicon Valley to join her husband, an engineer for a satellite company.

She joined the linkAges network after seeing a flyer at the local library. In exchange for offering to wash windows, the 59-year-old connected with people of all ages who gave her rides to the airport, her aerobics sessions and Spanish classes.

Read the full story in the Santa Cruz Sentinel. Visit linkAges’ site to learn more.

Got something cool you tried that was successful? Share the inspiration. You can also post them to our Intergenerational Connections Facebook Group. We want to highlight innovative age-optimized programs and practices through our blog, social media and weekly e-newsletter!

Wednesday, July 06, 2016

Meet Monique McIntyre - Generations United Summer Intern

As someone whose mother was raised by her grandmother – Big Mama – I know firsthand the benefits of intergenerational connections.

My great-grandmother’s influence on my mother helps shape the way she raises me and my siblings.

Big Mama was financially prudent, and as a result ran a household and raised five children on one paycheck. The way she handled money transferred to my mother and was a huge inspiration and the catalyst for my mother’s career of advising her readers on finances.

My mother has since transferred her financial sensibilities to me.

Another person who directly influences my life is my Grandma Lois. I have so many fond memories of her. Some of the most fun we had were at her holiday arts and crafts parties. We would make and decorate ornaments and dance in our chairs to Christmas music.

She always made a point to be at my school events from pre-K to High school and still continues to support me.

During stressful times at college, I am constantly comforted by Grandma Lois’s messages of love and encouragement, which always seem to come when I need them most.

For example, during my sophomore year, I was preparing for a math exam. I was incredibly nervous and full of self-doubt.

The night before the exam, my Grandma Lois randomly sent me a message about how proud of me she was and how I should never doubt myself or my capabilities. Her message carried me through to the exam the next morning and really helped to boost my confidence.

That exam ended up being my second highest exam grade for that class.

Then there’s my grandfather Charles, or more affectionately known as Pop-Pop, who moved in with my family in the months before he passed away.

I am so grateful for the valuable time I was able to spend with him. Those precious memories I will carry with me for the rest of my life.

As a rising senior at the University of Maryland-College Park, double majoring in Psychology and Family Science, I hope to one day help develop and strengthen families through therapy.

I am excited to be interning at Generations United this summer. I look forward to helping promote Grandparents Day, assisting in adding to and strengthening Generations United’s Intergenerational Programs database and continuing to lend my support to the Programs of Distinction.

Family relationships are incredibly important to me.

I believe my personal connections with Big Mama, Grandma Lois, and Pop-Pop will help inform and drive my work this summer with Generations United.

My elders have given me a unique perspective on the past and they continue to be a guiding light for my future.