Why Bring Youth and Seniors Together?
don’t want to preach to anyone, I want to tell these kids how
great they are and how hard it is to be a kid, I was there. I might
forget what, but I just want them to know someone is listening.”
“Vulnerability need not be a permanent state for our children”
one listens to me anymore.......when I was small and cute I was adored;
where did they go?? I’m still here, where are they?”
“Just like a tree needs water to grow and flourish, so does our youth - don’t assume they have what they need - ask - care - be involved.
Intergenerational Programs: Why They Work
The Youth-Senior Connection
In looking at the voices of youth and older adults, the positive contributions of each group cannot be underestimated. Enough attention has been paid to the voices that seem to have prevailed in the past; voices that are filled with nonsensical rhetoric which is nothing more than stereotype. As a society we are all too familiar with the negative effects on individuals, groups and whole communities when ageist stereotypes prevail. It is time not only to debunk these stereo types but also capitalize on the strengths and assets both seniors and youth bring to make our communities safer.
Auer, Bas(2000-01) “The Global Meeting of Generations: Issues Concepts and youth Development,” From the Global Meeting of Generations Website(international development conference.)
Youth currently comprise over 1 billion people on the planet and account for approximately 20% of the world population while just over 10% of the wold population consists of seniors over the age of 65 years It has been predicted that the current ratio of youth outnumbering older people (1.5 : 1) will be dramatically altered over the next fifty years and by the year 2050 older people will outnumber youth (1.8 : 1) This changing demographic profile has been cited as the most dramatic change in generational relationships in any 50 year period. From 1980 to 1990 the growth rate of those in the age range of 15-24 years was the highest growth rate of any other age cohort and constitutes the largest generation of youth in history. The share of the world age 60 and above will rise from today’s 10% to 20% by 2050 and to 31% by 2150. Before 2050 the number of those over 60 will surpass those under 15 for the first time in history. These projections show a dramatic change in the two ends of the life span, yet very little has been put in place to deal with the competing demands and requests for services for both youth and seniors, especially those which would serve to bring these two groups closer to each other, and form a better understand.
Building Intergenerational Programs
It is important that we move to a society for all ages and fight our current preoccupation with age segregated activities. Residential patterns, activities and institutions such as schools and institutions for the elderly lead to further segregation. Stereotypes flourish under conditions of inadequate contact and knowledge reinforced through the segregation of youth and elderly. It is important to maintain out conversations.
Why not use an Intergenerational approach to try and address this problem? The possibilities are endless! Think about the opportunities afforded when the resources of old and young alike are valued, searched out and put into practice.
What is an Intergenerational Program?
Intergenerational programs are defined as activities that increase cooperation, interaction or exchange between any two generations. These programs purposefully bring together people of different age groups in ongoing, mutually beneficial, planned activities, designed to achieve specified program goals. Intergenerational programs provide children , youth and older adults to volunteer while contributing meaningfully to society. At the same time, Intergenerational programs provide a supportive environment conducive to supporting emotional, intellectual, and social growth and physical activity. Intergenerational programs may take many forms but all demonstrate benefits across the ages.
How Would I Be Equipped to Do an Intergenerational Program ?
When community members were asked to list the skills , knowledge and abilities that were necessary to run an effective intergenerational program, they listed a number of key ingredients.
Many people already have some of these skills! Areas that more information is needed (such as the needs of youth and older adults) can be found in this manual, and in the resources section of this report.
Desired Skills, Abilities and Knowledge of an Effective Facilitator in an Intergenerational Program.