Bridging the Generation Gap
- By: Jacqueline Holloway
In my career forming Intergenerational Programs, this question arose many times. How do we connect today’s youth with older adults? With a teenager in my house, I carefully thought, “What is she good at and how can she utilize her talents to connect with seniors”?
As I sat back and thought of her many gifts in sports, education, music and technology, I outlined a program to join all of these talents to share with aging adults. After careful review, it came to me that it wasn’t just what my teenager could offer them, I was beginning to realize what could older adults offer to her?
Seniors have stories of historical events, styles, music and they’re knowledgeable in life. Period. I realized I was onto something. If I had these two very different generations together they could learn something from each other and have a better understanding and respect for each other.
In 2009, I organized in my local city, it’s first ever Intergenerational Program. After partnering with another agency and being awarded a $750,000 grant, I was able to offer a Financial Literacy Program, Intergenerational Olympics, Intergenerational Technology Program, Intergenerational Cooking Class and I partnered with a local University and had educational speakers.
It wasn’t long before these programs were filling up. I saw these two, what I thought were very different generations, come together and form friendships. I continued the success of these programs for many years and went onto becoming a National Finalist for Best Intergenerational Program in 2016. As I accepted the award in Washington, D.C., I realized that I fulfilled a void inside myself.
I wanted to bridge the generation gap that I yearned for. With never having the opportunity to meet my grandfathers who are deceased and both grandmothers passing by the time I was a teenager, I yearned for that connection. Through these programs I gained many insights into my own self. In the end, I learned that although there was a generation gap, there wasn’t anything in the way of the bonds they formed and the newfound awareness I came to know.
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Jacqueline Holloway has spent the last fifteen years working with senior citizens, teaching them to empower independence and lead fuller and more productive lives. She has been instrumental in bringing the world to those who might never get the opportunity to interact with interesting people as well as teaching them the basic skills of financial literacy, learning how to keep in touch with family and friends through emails, and many other ways of engaging their minds and their interests.