The Benefits of Inter-generational Programming


Inter-generational programs, by definition, provide opportunities for different generations to interact through activities and shared experiences.


Inter-generational programming can have numerous benefits for all participants. These benefits can be social, emotional, and physical. Notably, inter-generational programming allows seniors and youth to build relationships, encourage each other, and share experiences.


Building relationships

Through regular interaction, friendships are often formed between older adults and younger individuals. With consistent participation, these bonds can grow stronger. For example, an older women may greatly enjoy eating lunch with a boy in elementary school, and as a result consumes a lot more nutrients than she otherwise would. This sort of relationship gives the older adult purpose and provides the younger person with a role model and source of support.


Encouraging one another

As an example, say a group of elementary students visits an older adult community and each student pairs up with an older adult. The student and older adult then read a story together. One student may have a great deal of trouble reading for extended periods, but through the encouragement and support from the older adult, they continue to read for over 30 minutes. This support can go both ways. Perhaps the older adult in this example had been having a lot of trouble focusing, but was able to stay engaged when interacting with the energetic student. This sort of encouragement happens all the time!


Sharing experiences

Programs that bring together different generations often lead to regular discussions and activities that allow individuals from different generations to share their personal experiences. Consider an older adult and a high school student that have grown to become friends due to consistent inter-generational programming. One day, they happen to have a discussion about their childhoods; the lessons, heartbreaks, sorrows, obstacles and joy they had experienced. Despite the obvious age gap, they find many similarities and common themes in their stories. These programs provide opportunities for older and younger generations to connect and grow a deeper understanding of one another.