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Intergenerational Programming - Rationale—why Now?, Program Models, Intergenerational Interactions, Impact On Families, International Intergenerational Programming Efforts

Marriage and Family EncyclopediaRelatives & Extended Family


Intergenerational programs refer to social service programs that provide opportunities for different generations to come together to share experiences, knowledge, and skills that are mutually beneficial and foster positive long-term relationships. These experiences typically involve interactions between the generations at the opposite end of the human life span—the young and the old. Integral to all these programs are interactions that meet the needs of both populations by fostering growth, understanding, and friendship between the generations (Adapted from National Council on Aging 1981).

The notion that a special synergy exists between the young and the old and that caring for each other is natural, appropriate, and timely is fundamental to intergenerational work and has been integrated into social service programs that address a diverse range of issues affecting today's families and communities (Newman et al. 1997). Intergenerational programs involve planned, ongoing interactions that extend over periods of time between nonbiologically linked children, youth, and older adults and engage the generations in activities that benefit both the young and the old. The young participants may be mainstream, at risk, special needs, or the gifted, ranging from infants through college age. Participating older persons include high functioning independent older adults, as well as older persons who are dependent, lower functioning, frail, or at risk.


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