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Intergenerational Learning : What Is Old Is New Again

Intergenerational Learning : What Is Old Is New Again

Imagine young and old coming together to experience, learn, and share. Innovative new programming, or a dusting off of the way it used to be? With our aging population, we see emerging examples of intergenerational programs being offered on many continents. Although it would be overstating it to suggest this has ‘taken-off,’ some of the experiences and results are both encouraging and positive. Some Examples: We turn first to Seattle where a long-term care facility shares space with a pre-school and child care center.1  Monday through Friday, babies and toddlers come to Providence Mount St. Vincent to mingle and connect with the residents where the average age is 92! Canada boasts a variety of examples where select secondary school students on a regular basis, attend local retirement or long-term care centres for a full school day that includes elements of their academic curriculum, social engagement with the residents, and service to the facility.2 The United Kingdom showcased an imaginative program initiated by a group of seniors. 3 This program brought together teens and older persons to explore mutual stereotypes and fears and to ultimately discover appreciation and common ground. They worked together to compose, produce and perform a song about ageism, while also creating digital photography that illustrated their experience, and posted these on the website they created jointly. Japan, long known for its history of three-generational families and sharing, is also experiencing the compartmentalization of modern day living. As a result, Japan is now turning to more structured initiatives ranging from reminiscence programs to more formal inter-generational mentoring and skill sharing.4 Does it work? Research suggests that simply...