Bridging the Generation Gap
At Ebenezer, we're proud to have Intergenerational Connections as one of our Cornerstones. We're committed to creating opportunities for our senior population to connect with children and youth of all ages. Through Intergenerational Connections, people of all ages share their talents and resources.
Benefits of Intergenerational Connections
Children learn from their "Grandfriends," and seniors learn from and enjoy the vitality and energy of the kids. Many of the benefits of this innovative intergenerational program hold true for both seniors and children.
- Enhanced socialization. Many seniors, before coming to an Ebenezer community, may have suffered from isolation and decreased socialization if they lived alone. Pre-K children need the socialization of being with others before entering school full time. In addition to socializing with their peers, children get the experience of socializing with an older generation, which they might not have in their lives at home. It's an exercise in building patience, empathy and responsibility for them.
- Learning and ongoing skill development. Children in our programs benefit from age-appropriate learning, care and fun created by our professional teachers. The goal is preparing them for kindergarten — and life — through classroom learning and play. Our seniors benefit from learning and ongoing skill development, too, especially in our programs like Life Long Learning with MacPhail Music, where they're paired with a child for music education. They also participate in arts and crafts, and gardening, keeping the mind sharp by learning new skills or expanding on their knowledge.
- Sharing life experiences and knowledge. This is especially important for both seniors and children in this age in which families live in far-flung locations and may not have the opportunity to interact intergenerationally as did families of the past. Seniors can share a vast amount of life experience with children, telling them about the days before cell phones and the internet, and sharing stories of the past. Kids can delight our seniors with tales of growing up now. It's a wonderful symbiotic relationship for both.
- Deeper understanding of diversity. Not just racial diversity, but age diversity as well. Many children don't spend time around seniors at home, or at all. It teaches them empathy for people who are not like them or their parents, patience when their grandfriends can't do things as quickly or have difficulty getting around, and respect for elders that is somewhat lacking in today's society.
Two types of programs: Onsite and non-shared site
At several of our senior living communities, we offer infant, toddler and preschool-age childcare onsite. In our infant classrooms, seniors bond with our youngest little ones with Rock a Bye Baby time. Seniors help provide one-on-one rocking time with our infants during the week. With toddlers, Grandfriends enjoy special educational activities in arts and crafts, science or outside gardening. In the Life Long Learning MacPhail Music program, seniors partner with a preschooler for music education and fun.
The programs we provide include regularly scheduled intergenerational activities, informal encounters, intergenerational outings, intergenerational community service projects, and specialized creative arts intergenerational programs with community partners.
Within our senior living communities that do not have child care attached to the community, we can still provide intergenerational activities with our non-shared site programs. We do this by engaging our local partner organizations, usually educational institutions, in the area.
Generation gap? We don't have one of those here. At Ebenezer, we're giving children and seniors alike the opportunity to live, learn and grow across generational lines.
There is no question that our Intergenerational Communities provide a powerful impact on both the seniors and children each and every day. If you'd like to learn more, contact us today.