Friday, March 25, 2016

City of Coral Springs - National Finalist

Intergenerational Olympics
Located in Broward County, the City of Coral Springs is a planned community that offers inviting neighborhoods, a diverse business community, top-rated schools, and beautiful parks.

Applauded for its overall livability, low crime rate, and family-friendly focus, it’s no surprise that Coral Springs is making strides to enhance intergenerational connections for its 127,000+ residents.

Since launching its first intergenerational program in 2009, the City of Coral Springs has developed a number of opportunities for older and younger residents to contribute to the growth and well-being of the community and its residents.

One of the newest programs, for example, engages tech-savvy local high school students as technology instructors to participants at the local senior center.

Florence Killoran, a local elder, enjoyed the six week computer course the teens facilitated.

Intergenerational Computer Class
“The teens taught us how to use our cell phones, computers and so many other electronic items,” she recalled. “At the end of the year, we had an intergenerational barbecue. That was nice to sit and chat with the kids.”

The City of Coral Springs’ 49 parks offer events and projects that intentionally connect the generations, like the Intergenerational Beautification Project.

Now in its third year, the project pairs teams of youth with older adult leaders to work together on outdoor projects to improve the community.

In addition to improving the local landscape and developing a community garden, the project has also served as a collaborative clean-up day to remove litter from neighborhood streets and highways.

Afterwards, youth and older adults enjoy lunch together. The city also recognizes participants of all ages at an award ceremony.

In 2015, the City Commission voted to help fund an intergenerational lecture series in partnership with Nova Southeastern University. Older adults gather with grandchildren and local youth to learn about an array of cultural, social, and educational topics.

They also learn about community-offered research, conservation and training programs.

Intergenerational Chess
Chloe Gouge, a student at Taravella High School, participated in the “Adopt an Elder” program, a mentorship program coordinated by Coral Springs High School that pairs students with elders from the community.

“My own grandparents live far away or are deceased so this was a nice experience for me to connect with older adults,” she explained.

The City of Coral Springs excels at building partnerships across agencies and sectors to achieve its intergenerational focus.

In partnership with the Kiwanis Club, for example, the local police and fire departments coordinate Safety Town, a nationally recognized program for young children to learn valuable lessons about safety. Each summer, the interactive program engages older volunteers in teaching young children about the importance of personal and traffic safety.

The City of Coral Springs partners with Nova Southeastern University, whose professors teach classes at the senior center.
The community prides itself on its commitment to engage all ages.

Intergenerational Clean-Up Day
“The seniors,” according to local elder Florence Killoran, “have done so much with the youth in the community.”

This includes the Senior Crochet Club making blankets for Kids in Distress, a local nonprofit for children who were victims of abuse.

City Commissioner Joy Carter counts this and other intergenerational efforts towards the “good experience of living and working” there.

“I have always been impressed with the City’s approach to their residents’ satisfaction,” she explained. “We have a tremendous volunteer base and a high-minded staff that remains vigilant to find programs that are interactive and supportive toward our citizens.”

To learn more about the City of Coral Springs, visit

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Eastman: Service and Teamwork Across the Lifespan - Best Intergenerational Communities Award Winner

Eastman Community Association started out as a retirement and seasonal recreational community. Now, it's a full-blown intergenerational one with a wonderful blend of all ages.

This shift is due to the economic growth of the Dartmouth-Lake Sunapee Region of New Hampshire. With new jobs came young families who fell in love with the trails and wildlife.

Eastman Community Association describes itself as "a naturally occurring, intergenerational community."

The residents made this intentional shift in 2012, when they enlisted the input of all generations to help create Eastman’s comprehensive strategic plan.

At the top of the list of Eastman Community Association’s strategic priorities is offering programs that foster intergenerational interaction.

During the summer season, Eastman Community Association ran the Peppermint Patty’s snack bar. It provided snacks, lunches and ice cream to the residents and visitors.

The snack bar almost closed in 2012, when the older adult operators decided to retire. A subcommittee of the Recreation Committee developed a plan to save it.

With help from older adult mentors, high school students would run Peppermint Patty’s. The mentors are professionals advising in various roles of operating a restaurant business.

Rachel Berg, a University of New Hampshire student, worked there.

“This offered opportunities for high school students to gain real business experience," she explained.

That experience included the teens meeting weekly with their mentors. They discussed operations and voted one another into a role. Berg’s team voted her for Marketing and Sales.

Another Eastman strategic goal is to encourage all ages to share their talents.

When John Larrabee moved there, he didn’t have time to be “retired.”

The community recruited the former teacher to chair the Lakes and Streams Committee. There, he and other volunteers watched over the 335-acre Eastman Lake.

The Committee started the Youth Conservation Corps (YCC) to tap into volunteers in the community, many of whom were older adults who were interested in introducing local youth to lake ecology.

“Boy did we hit it out of the park,” Larrabee noted. “Parents got involved, volunteers of all ages paired with kids on projects dealing with rain gardens and storm water runoff.”

The youth learned to transplant hostas (a plant species that grows in shade). Those who became experts guided adults new to the experience.

2011 Fashion Show
After the program, YCC members wrote self-growth essays about their experience. The Eastman Living quarterly magazine published those essays. Additionally, YCC members presented their projects to participants at the annual Lake Appreciation Day.

Larrabee enjoyed connected with the youth.

“I have written five college letters of recommendations for YCC kids,” he recalled. “I have become part of the extended family in some cases.”

With a two-mile lake, six beaches, and countless miles of cross-country skiing and hiking trails, the community's shared love of protecting the environment helps bring generations together.

Several line items in the community's annual budget help protect that and other assets. The investments include foundation grants for elders to teach youth how to build boats.

The Community Living Group provided a full-time staff person to work with the community. The Group also budgeted over $90,000 to programs, including intergenerational activities and events.

Other investments helped the community open the 16,000-square-foot South Cove Activity Center in 2009. The building, which replaced an older facility, helps meet Eastman's intergenerational needs.

“There is so much that Eastman offers to every generation,” according to Rachel Berg, the University of New Hampshire student. “I know that when I am finally considered a part of the ‘wiser’ generation, I would be lucky to live somewhere like Eastman.”

Monday, March 21, 2016

Milwaukee: Building Bridges of Understanding that Span the Generations - Best Intergenerational Communities Award Winner

Mosess Intergenerational Dance Performance
Nestled on the coast of Lake Michigan, Milwaukee is a big city with a small town feel, thanks to its unique neighborhoods and engaged residents working to promote quality of life for all ages.

In the early 80's, a 3-year-old girl named Katie helped the community to think intergenerational.

St. Ann Center, which launched on the city’s south side in 1983, initially offered just community-based adult day care for older adult clients in the basement of the Convent of the Sisters of St. Francis of Assisi.

One day, when Katie’s single mom, a St. Ann Center employee, couldn’t find daycare for her daughter, she brought Katie to work.

During the visit, Katie saw a client lapsing into a grand mal seizure. The 3-year-old immediately ran to the shaking man, jumped on his lap and gave him a big hug. And, with Katie’s hug, the man’s symptoms stopped—the seizure never occurred.

St. Ann Center for Intergenerational Care
That’s when St. Ann Center’s intergenerational model of care was born, becoming the first intergenerational shared site of its kind in the nation and setting a strong foundation for a community that embraces the value of all ages and abilities.

Consequently, Milwaukee is now home to a host of intergenerational programs, including two Generations United Programs of Distinction: St. Ann Center for Intergenerational Care and TimeSlips Creative Storytelling.

Through TimeSlips, a program of the Creative Trust Milwaukee, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (UWM) students are trained and partnered with community groups to facilitate storytelling with older adults, many with symptoms of memory loss.

The city’s other intergenerational initiatives include Aged to Perfection (an undergraduate class developed by UWM’s Center for Aging and Translational Research), The Arts at Home (an artist and student team that brings engagement to elders living alone) and Reach Out Reach In (teens develop daily activities for children and older adults).

The Intergenerational Council promotes intergenerational dialogues within and between the races and cultures. This year’s theme, “Turning Points,” encourages adults and youth to discuss key life decisions that affect the future of each individual and the community in which that resident lives.

Toddlers on a mission at Saint Johns on the
Lake Retirement Community
In 2015, The Milwaukee County Commission on Aging and partnering agencies hosted an intergenerational panel discussion and audience talkback in honor of Vel Phillips, the city’s first woman and African American official and judge and Wisconsin’s Secretary of State.

The ethnically and culturally mixed intergenerational panel discussed how the city’s past race relations affect Milwaukee residents today and how all ages can take lessons learned from the past to build a bright future together.

Additionally, Milwaukee, host city for the 2017 Global Intergenerational Conference, showed commitment to creating spaces that connect the generations.

Mayor Tom Barrett noted that “the City’s Villard Square Library project replaced an aging library with a new facility that includes housing for grandparents raising grandchildren.”

Reekaya Free Jenkins, an eighth- grader at Hope Christian School Prima, jumped at the opportunity to join the St. Ann Center Buddy Program, which connects youth (ages 11-15) with older adults suffering from severe developmental and physical disabilities.

“There were many older people I got to know,” she explained. “They were happy they had someone to share what life was like when they were growing up. I learned a lot from their stories. It was like a history lesson, only better. I had fun updating them on what’s happening with kids like me.”

L. Jane Shatto, who retired in 2012, was also inspired to work across the ages.

During her seven years of volunteering at City on a Hill, a nonprofit organization working with central city youth and families, she encountered too many youngsters who struggled with reading.

Interfaith RSVP Tutoring Program
Now, she works with second-graders in the Milwaukee Public Schools through InterFaith Older Adult Programs, which is funded by the Greater Milwaukee Foundation.

“I have seen improvement when additional help, encouragement and support are given,” Shatto noted.

Her rewards include watching a child, who previously struggled, read confidently. “When a child tells me about their latest test scores,” she explained, “or that they are moving to a higher reading group, I feel blessed.”

That and other blessings won over the Posner Foundation, which helped fund intergenerational programming at the Jewish Home and Care Center, where Milwaukee schoolchildren practice reading skills by reading to seniors.

“Many organizations work in our neighborhoods to ensure that people of all ages are able to share their talents and resources with each other,” Mayor Barrett said. “A community flourishes when youth and older adults have an opportunity to share life experiences.”

Monday, March 14, 2016

Opening Minds through Art

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, Opening Minds through Art (OMA), is a Generations United Programs of Distinction. OMA is a Scripps intergenerational art program for people with dementia.

(Check our archives for parts 1-79 | non-archived: 1 and 2)

Dr. Elizabeth Lokon founded OMA in 2007 at the Scripps Gerontology Center at Miami University in Ohio.

The belief is that people with dementia can express themselves through art. With that, OMA builds bridges across age and cognitive barriers.

The program promotes social engagement, autonomy and dignity of people with dementia . It accomplishes this by pairing people with dementia with trained volunteers.

The art-making sessions include a gallery exhibition to celebrate the artists' accomplishments. It also shows the public the creative capacities of people with dementia.

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. We want to highlight innovative age-optimized programs and practices through our blog, social media and weekly e-newsletter! Share the inspiration.

Tuesday, March 08, 2016

Janet Sainer - Women's History Month

The world lost an intergenerational pioneer and hero with the death of Janet Sainer in 2007.

Janet, as she was known to everyone, started her more than 50 years of work in the intergenerational field in 1958, working for two synagogues in New York City after graduating with an MSW from Case Western Reserve in Cleveland.

Next, Janet joined Community Service Society of New York, where she launched SERVE (Serve and Enrich Retirement by Volunteer Experience), which functioned as the foundation for the Retired Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP).

Now administered by the Corporation for National and Community Service, RSVP can be found in over 700 sites nationwide.

In 1978, Mayor Ed Koch named Janet the Commissioner of the New York City Department for the Aging, a position she held for 12 years.

As commissioner, Janet started and expanded senior service programs, including the New York City Alzheimer’s Resource Center, the city Meals-On-Wheels program, the city’s Stay-Well health promotion program, new minority services, and several intergenerational programs.

After stepping down as commissioner, Janet served as a special consultant for the Brookdale Foundation Group, a position she held until her death.

At Brookdale, she showed her creative genius once again by developing the Relatives As Parents Program (RAPP) that, today, serves grandparents and other relatives raising children.

Her staunch advocacy on behalf of grandfamilies led the 1995 White House Conference on Aging to recommend adopting a policy supporting grandfamilies.

Janet had another major victory with the National Family Caregiver Support Program (NFCSP).

She encouraged Generations United to advocate for the inclusion of grandparent caregivers. When Congress reauthorized the Older Americans Act in 2000, it included the NFCSP and authorized states to spend up to 10 percent of the funds on grandfamilies.

In 2003, Generations United presented Janet with The Jack Ossofsky Award for Lifetime Achievement in Support of Children, Youth and Older Adults in 1997.

Monday, March 07, 2016

San Pasqual Academy

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 San Pasqual Academy, a first-in-the-nation residential education campus designed specifically for foster teens.

(Check our archives for parts 1-78 | non-archived: 1 and 2)

The Academy provides foster teens with a stable, caring home, a quality, individualized education, and the skills needed for independent living.

The San Pasqual Academy Neighbors (SPAN) intergenerational mentoring program brings foster youth and foster grandparents together in this warm and supportive community.

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. We want to highlight innovative age-optimized programs and practices through our blog, social media and weekly e-newsletter! Share the inspiration.