Since Older American's Month is coming up in May, wouldn't it be great to get our younger generations involved with our older generations in fun and meaningful ways? When children, teens and younger adults spend time with older adults, there are many benefits to everyone involved. Older adults can be great role models for children, while also passing on family stories, historical information and teaching the rituals and traditions of earlier times. Children can also improve their practical living skills and ability to problem-solve when applying the wisdom and life experiences gained from those that have lived for many years.
Older adults can also benefit from their interactions with youth. They too can learn new skills, like technology, and often feel rejuvenated and energized after spending time with young ones. The more time spent with each other can also bring greater understanding and appreciation of each generation – their beliefs, values, and behaviors.
There are many activities that are ideal for various generations to do together. Some of these activities include: genealogy, storytelling, scrapbooking, art, gardening, music, community service projects, technology, cooking, crafts, games, traveling, fishing, nature walks, movies and sports. Many of these provide opportunities for lessons learned and taught for everyone involved.
There is a wonderful 4-H project called "Walk in My Shoes" that teaches aging awareness to youth. Check out the website http://extension.illinois.edu/wims/index.cfm and see some of the activities that youth can participate in to learn more about getting older.
Also check out Penn State Extension's Intergenerational Activities Sourcebook http://extension.psu.edu/youth/intergenerational and the Generations United website at www.gu.org for programming and activity ideas.