Victoria McGuire | White Plains, New York

Victoria photo 1I was in 5th grade when I started an intergenerational to erase stereo types between generations.

My intergenerational project involved both kids and seniors working together on different community service projects to help all generations within our community. Several of our projects are helping home bound seniors within our community.

This project impacted my life. Because of it, I know what I want to do when I graduate college: work in the field of geriatrics and work with the underprivileged seniors and other members in my community.

Victoria's tips

Victoria photo 2This project resulted in me being asked to present my project at several conferences. I was also asked to have my project replicated.

Another success of this project is that it impacted other youth, many of whom no longer have negative stereotypes of seniors.

As for my project being replicated, the participating seniors and volunteers all look forward to working together.

Taylor Hamai | Honolulu, Hawaii

Taylor

Looking at our city’s demographics and our mission to become more age-friendly, I felt empowered, at 18 years old, to do something that could make an impact on our community.

That’s what sparked my interest in intergenerational work during my senior year of high school.

My intergenerational project was a series of greeting cards called “Messaging With Love,” which included two other young people.

messagingwithlove1

Click image to view enlarged version.

(See all “Messaging with Love” cards.)

My mission was to share and honor the legacy of incredible centenarians, promote awareness for older adult support and raise money for a local non-profit that supports older adults.

On the back of each card is a bio with the centenarian’s name, age, and life accomplishments.

taylortipsWhat made my project successful was that I truly cared about what I was doing. I knew that I could make an impact and devoted a lot of time to my project.

My project is an example of what is possible with a little inspiration and a lot of hard work. As a result, I’ve seen firsthand the mutual benefits of younger and older generations working together.

Sean Butler | Carmel, CA

Sean Butler teaching ipadI was in the first grade when I found out I have dyslexia.

Older adults helped me learn to read throughout elementary school. They were patient with me while I misread the same words over and over.

Now, I’m 15.

My mom recently told me about an older lady she met at work. She was overwhelmed and frustrated to the point of tears about trying to use her iPad.

That’s when I thought I can now help older adults the way they once helped me. I can teach them to use technology.

That’s why I started Wired for Connections/Mentor Up, a technology-based community service high school club.

Sean's tipsWhen I first talked to my school about mentoring older adults at our local senior center, I was surprised to find out that my high school and the senior center never partnered together on anything.

More than 60 percent of Carmel’s population is people over 55.

Through my high school club, students provide one-on-one technology mentoring sessions with older adults at our local senior center.

Sean Butler 3This project’s success is a result of us using t-shirts, club events and weekly club meetings to actively promote our club at school. We also worked really hard, making sure students were set up to be successful mentors by providing them sensitivity and etiquette training before they started mentoring.

For the first time, young adults and older adults in my community enjoy learning from each other.

Khari Eyen Zame Johnson | Washington, DC

Youth - KhariI was 14 years old when I got involved with intergenerational work. The powerful intergenerational legacies within my city are inspiring.

That’s why, through I SAW! DC,  I sought to document the continuum of local history for individuals of all ages. I wanted to ensure that, as time passes, we do not become blind to the importance of our elders and their contributions to an evolving society.

I SAW! DC gave me a chance to uncover important historical information by conducting oral histories with local elders, highlighting their significance in the community.

As researchers, we forged connections with elders who are descendants of Washington, DC’s, early African American societies.

Mentors like Dr. Tessie Muldrow, Neville Waters, and Carter Bowman Jr. helped guide us through a historical odyssey.

Carrie's tipsUsing web-based platforms, we conducted surveys to gain a perspective on our impact to local communities. We also used cameras to capture the strength of Washington, DC’s, historical narrative and how it affected all generations.

As a result, I SAW! DC allowed all ages to have a stake in documenting the city’s history.

In 2013, we had two youths from the 2012 program return to participate and, during the 2014 project, we had a Kent State graduate return to help coordinate the program.

Another success was this year, when I SAW! DC conducted research with the Mt. Zion United Methodist Church and the 15th St. Presbyterian Church.

This research included contacting George Washington’s Mt. Vernon estate and linking fascinating historical connections across the tri-s-tate area.

Khari, Ronnie Rimbert, Joe JenkinsWe placed our research into an online exhibition and the Historical Society of Washington, DC, invited I SAW! DC to present our findings at the 41st Annual Historical Studies Conference.

Those are not our only successes.

My project has profoundly changed how I view the passage of time and the legacies people leave behind. This project also reinforced my belief in the importance of youth involvement in uncovering the historical tales of their neighborhoods and communities.

Hanni Hanson | Oakland, CA

HanniI work with Generation Waking Up, a nonprofit in Oakland that does empowerment and leadership development work with young changemakers, from 16- to 30-year-olds. (I’m 23!)

While our focus is on youth, we recognize that it will take diverse communities to help build the world we want to build. We wanted to help bring together people of all ages to help do so.

We held two community events in Oakland—“Wiser Together: Collaborating Across Generations” and “Wiser Together: Harvesting Wisdom”—that aimed to bring together people of all ages to have meaningful conversations in service to a better world.

Hanni tipWe got a lot of support from the surrounding community.

The first event was much larger, and we relied on volunteers for everything from the evening’s entertainment and facilitation to setup and cleanup.

The second event was smaller, but also relied heavily on community members to run.

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Click photo to enlarge.

Both events definitely sparked some interesting and important dialogue around what it means to be in community with one another, what strengths and unique gifts different generations can bring, and how to harness those gifts to build more resilient communities.

I’m not aware of specific action projects that have grown out of either event, but the chance to build relationships with people of various ages was inherently really valuable.

Grace Chen | Rockville, MD

Grace ChenOn a bimonthly basis, a team of students, ranging from elementary to high school, visit the Ring House, working with residents specifically on all areas of technology.

I began this project when I was 14 years old after being an inspired by my interaction with my own grandmother and extended family, as well as stories I heard from friends who had experience with intergenerational work.

Beyond computers, iPads and cellphones, my team and I we seek to interact with the older adults at Ring House, while also engaging in activities such as gardening, music and art, hand crafts and painting, cultural exchange, and most importantly, simple dialogue.

Grace's tipsThe commitment of the volunteers plays a crucial role in our success; once students join the project, they dedicate themselves to it, creating a stronger bond between the residents, volunteers, and project overall.

As students, this project has truly expanded our limited perspectives; I’ve learned to interact with every type of person regardless of age, a factor that severely isolates and disaggregates different generations.

As a community, we’ve become a more cohesive body, learning to bridge gaps between us using technology and conversation.

Carrie Ryan | Pasadena, CA

Carrie Ryan C12Between my junior and senior year of high school, I worked as an assistant activities coordinator at Monte Vista Grove Homes, the nursing home where my grandfather spent the past two years of his life.

The work was rewarding, but difficult: though a present and friendly staff dutifully cared for the elders in the home, I was struck by how lonely many of the residents still were.

And though the difficult realities of their lives seemed obvious to me, I grew to realize just how invisible their struggles were to my friends at school and to my loved ones – very few ever stepped foot into a nursing home or retirement community; and we all, it seemed, were victims of a large social and geographical gap separating the generations.

Because I saw a need for more engagement in the nursing home, and great resources in my friends and family members, I decided to make the link: an intergenerational connection seemed perfect to infuse both parties with the possibility to grow and learn from one another and to share together in their resources.

Carrie's tipsMy project, Bridging the Generations, matched high school students with elders looking for computer tutorials.

It also created a curriculum for service learning projects in high school classes that served to connect students with local retirement communities.

This project sits at the nexus of what I came to see as the most important learning experience I had as a young teenager.

The project taught me that holism is always stronger than segmentation; that problems are never intractable; that there is always hope; and that the mere act of bringing two unlikely people together – in this case, the young and the old – brings great joy, transformation and enrichment for all.

How did this project impact others?

Carrie Ryan C12I cannot know for sure. But many of the community members, who took computer classes in the retirement community, now have their own computers at home, which they use regularly to email family and friends.

And many of the students involved in the project reported greater awareness of, and respect towards, elders in the community – and some even went on to take gerontology classes in college.

My project was successful because of the people involved.

It took several groups to make this project happen: the lovely people at Monte Vista Grove Homes, who both supported the project and engaged with it enthusiastically; my school, Westridge School for Girls, which donated computers for the classes; and all of the volunteers, who spent much of their time learning how to teach computer basics with patience, wit, and – most importantly – an open-mind.