MUTUAL BENEFITS OF INTERGENERATIONAL PROGRAMS
Intergenerational mentoring works to break down the generational barriers between today’s youth and seniors. Through spending time and participating in activities together, some of the benefits for students and seniors can be a higher sense of purpose self-esteem. It is truly a mutually beneficial learning experience.
“One of the students in the class had a very challenging time socially. He was not doing very well connecting with the other children,” says Ben. “He really connected with his buddy. This experience became his social outlet and a real source for a positive relationship.”
The students and residents work on activities together during each visit. Examples include a craft project, playing games on an iPad, or even having the students interview the residents and creating biographies with the information they gather.
While the residents had differing levels of communication abilities, nothing hindered the bond formed between residents and students. “I had one little girl in my class who went to an emotional level with her buddy,” says Darla. “The buddy she was paired with was blind. This student went home and created a textile board full of different textures that the resident could feel during the next visit.
“One time, the students were ready to come for their program but the bus didn’t show up,” said Ben. They were ready to cancel the program for the day, but to everyone’s surprise, 25-minutes later the students appeared at the community’s front door. “They had walked the two miles from the school to come to the program because they didn’t want to miss spending time with their buddies.”
After reading about intergenerational relationships, I had to know more about this Buddy Program in Billings, Montana. This was probably my most favorite article I read. As a mother, I love the idea of children connecting with older adults and how mutually beneficial these relationships can be. I think social education is often overlooked but so important. Also, as a mother of 3 children who all have very unique personalities and needs, I don’t believe in a one size fits all education system. There is so much benefit in children being able to create connections with others and receive mentoring experiences from sources outside their own homes. Additionally, this program creates something for older generations to look forward to and builds a different type of social connectedness outside their own existing environments.
Group, The Goodman. “Who’s the Real Mentor? Intergenerational Program Bonds Students and Seniors.” Who’s the Real Mentor? Intergenerational Program Bonds Students and Seniors, https://blog.thegoodmangroup.com/intergenerational-program.