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Intergenerational Programming - Program Models

youth adults children care

Intergenerational programs, as a response to social conditions and problems, have been developing in the United States since the 1970s. From their grass roots beginnings and local origins, these programs have expanded into diverse program models that are available across the United States. They are evident in small and large educational and social service systems such as K-12 schools, libraries, child and adult day care, mental health systems, multipurpose community centers, long-term care and residential communities, and institutions of higher education. There are four basic types of program models. These models have a specific structure that enables them to be replicated in a variety of settings and to have similar and measurable successful outcomes. This structure includes several components:

  • Partnerships between systems serving children and youth and systems serving older adults;
  • A formalized set of goals and objectives;
  • Planned program implementation procedures that include orientation and training of the professional staff and participants, and defined intergenerational activities;
  • Staff and administrative commitment;
  • Support from diverse groups in the community; and
  • An ongoing evaluation plan.

The most common intergenerational program model involves older adults providing service to children, youth, and families in the community. Represented in this model are programs in which older adults are:

  • Rockers for HIV positive infants in hospital settings (border babies);
  • Caregivers for preschool age children in childcare (infants through kindergarten);
  • Mentors, tutors, special subject coaches, and resource persons for K-12 students in school or after school programs;
  • Special friends to families whose children have disabilities;
  • Counselors to pregnant teens or other at-risk youth;
  • Cultural support persons for immigrant families; and
  • Advisors and mentors to students in higher education.

There are an estimated two million older adults involved in intergenerational programs in which older adults serve children, youth, and families.

The second most frequently reported intergenerational program model involves children and youth serving older adults. Programs representative of this model include:

  • Small groups of young children, prekindergarten through grade three, engaging in activities such as arts and crafts, reading and music with frail elderly in long-term care or adult care settings; TABLE 1
TABLE 1
Intergenerational program models
Older adults serve children, youth, and families
Children/youth serve older adults
Children/youth/older adults serve others
Children/youth/older adults share sites
  • Groups of school age children in grades four through nine visiting individual or groups of residents in long-term care or personal care environments to talk, or participate in activities such as board games, exercises, music and crafts; and
  • Youth from grades ten through twelve, as well as college students, visiting individually with older adults in their own homes or apartments or in their personal care or long-term care environments. During these visits the old and young may talk, write letters, share hobbies or a meal, take walks, shop together, or go on an outing (i.e., to the museum or library).

These visits frequently occur over a period of several years with relationships continuing after students graduate from high school or college. Several hundred thousand children and youth are involved in serving the elderly in their communities.

The third intergenerational model demonstrates partnership activities between a community's children and youth and older adults. Typically, these programs involve groups of youth and older adults who plan and execute activities that benefit the community. Teams of youth and older adults engage in environmental or gardening projects, community fundraising initiatives, collaborative musical or theatrical performances, or discussion groups. The participants in these projects may be members of youth and elder clubs, school classes joining older adult agencies, or young and old individuals from the community who come together to plan a service activity.

The fourth intergenerational model consists of interactions between older adults, children, and youth who share a physical environment and who engage in informal and formal planned or spontaneous interactions. Examples of this model, referred to as shared sites, may be adult and child care in a shared space, long-term care and child care in the same building, a senior center housed at a school, or a multigenerational community center in which interactive intergenerational activities such as computer training, folk dancing, and cooking ethnic foods lend themselves to cross-age scheduling at the site.

Though intergenerational program models differ in size, location and frequency of interactions, and number and ages of participants, they embrace several common characteristics. All intergenerational programs:

  • Benefit the younger and older participants;
  • Strive to meet specific intergenerational needs of the community;
  • Require the commitment and collaboration of multiple agencies;
  • Are designed to improve relationships between the community's young and old; and
  • Enhance the quality of life in the community and among its families.
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over 8 years ago

I was wondering if you could give me and actual et up of some of these intergenerational projects. I am doing some research and that would be more then helpful. Any information at all will be greatly appreciated. THANKS-