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When plans were on the drawing board for The Longview Assisted Living Residence, Christian Health (CHCC) took the opportunity to create the ideal arrangement for intergenerational programming. Now what exactly does that look like?
Space on the lower level was dedicated for the Child Day Care Center, thus enabling a natural intermingling between the generations. Later, the addition of the Spirit Path linking Longview, Hillcrest, Christian Health Care Woodhaven of Wyckoff, and Heritage Manor Nursing Home allowed the day-care staff to more readily transport children for activities with seniors in other residences and programs.
“Longview residents light up when children come around. Seniors who suffer from arthritis or chronic pain suddenly come to life when youngsters are present. It’s joyful. It brings excitement, energy, and a sense of life,” says Rachel Yahes, MPS, ATR-BC, LCAT, Longview Director of Activities. “The children benefit, too. Intergenerational programs present an opportunity for them to learn from seniors other than their own grandparents. They experience the seniors’ wisdom, and how giving and unconditionally loving they are.”
By joining generations through activities, seniors feel an immediate enhancement to their quality of life. In addition, these activities help different generations realize that there are certain similarities that allow for a connection to be made.
At CHCC senior residences, intergenerational activities are scheduled weekly for residents and youngsters from the Child Day Care Center.
“Activities include arts and crafts, singing, reading books, playing games, and special shows and events for holidays,” says Debby Neill, Child Day Care Center Director. “Intergenerational child care benefits the young children and seniors in tremendous ways. The most important outcome is that the residents and children get to spend quality time together, simply talking, observing each other, and sharing hugs and love in a beautiful, safe, nurturing environment.”
Intergenerational activities at CHCC are not just limited to participation from the Child Day Care Center. Junior Volunteers age 13 to 17 engage with seniors in all programs and residences. Some teens volunteer year-round, but the program kicks into high gear during the summer.
“The most exhilarating part of intergenerational programs is when both populations realize that a person who was once a stranger has now become important,” Ms. Yahes says. “The strengths of each generation are recognized and respected. The joint programs become celebrations of young and old, of life and learning.” It’s truly amazing seeing different generations bond through the different programs and activities provided by CHCC!