Intergenerational programming makes 'the world a little better place'
Connections made at Almonte Country Haven enrich generationsAugust 7, 2012
ALMONTE, Ont. - Joan Kehoe lights up as she stands and demonstrates how she used to dance as a child at the many weekend family gatherings she enjoyed growing up.
The memories spark off a talk with the OMNIway about young dancers and fiddlers who recently visited Kehoe’s home at Almonte Country Haven, as part of its intergenerational programming (IP).
“The little ones get the feet jigging,” Kehoe says with delight, her love of music and dance as bright as her smile and laughter.
“We did this when we were kids. We grew up having good times.”
It’s these kinds of connections, and the bridge formed between generations, that make IP a key component of programming at Almonte Country Haven and long-term care in general, administrator Marilyn Colton says.
IP is “an opportunity for one generation to learn from another, making the world a little better place for all of us,” she says.
Almonte Country Haven works directly with local elementary and secondary schools to bring residents and youth together in a variety of activities. Community churches also spread the word about IP, leading to linkages between the home and schools.
Co-ordinated by Naomi Redner’s life enrichment team, IP’s recent offerings included an outdoor performance of the chicken dance by about 20 kindergartners. Some Grade 2 students from Stittsville also gave residents a taste of hip-hop music and culture with their dance routines.
Residents “absolutely loved it,” Colton says, noting they were all applauding and shouting for more when the presentation ended.
A number of residents told Colton it was among the best entertainment ever to be enjoyed at the home.
“It just shows you how the seniors love the little ones,” she says.
IP activities are truly a win-win for the residents and youth.
Younger generations enrich the quality of residents’ lives by sharing the skills and abilities they’ve developed, like dancing, playing musical instruments, and reading.
Residents, in turn, educate youth by sharing their life experiences and skills, opening eyes to another period in time and way of life. Youth, for instance, may get a lesson on quilting, hear how residents lived through a world war, or how communities came together to build barns. In the process, they learn about values as integrity, honesty, respect and gratitude for the simple things in life.
“Our residents have travelled their life journey and, as a result, have many life experiences and wisdom to share with other generations. This gives our residents a true feeling of making a contribution to society,” Colton says.
“Through these programs, younger generations can further develop to their full potential as fully functioning human beings. Older generations can prepare to leave this world knowing that they have left a little piece of their heart and mind with those of us still moving along our own life journey.”
Almonte Country Haven will continue developing IP, Colton says, with plans to forge longer-term connections between residents and youth. The home also hopes to welcome a French-speaking high school student to engage several residents whose first language is French.
If you have a story to share or feedback on this article, please contact the newsroom at 800-294-0051, ext. 25, or e-mail lisa(at)axiomnews.ca.
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