“Our lives are molded by the people that touch us; Our families, friends, coworkers, the experiences we share and the people we meet along the way. Everyone, young and old, has a special gift that they were equipped with to share with the world.”
Canton Day Care Center is in a unique position due to its location within the United Helpers Maplewood Facility. The children in our program are neighbors with the Maplewood residents, and we use this proximity to involve the children in an intergenerational program. Young people actively interacting and intentionally spending time with people of older generations is increasingly important, as studies have shown a growing separation of younger and older people in living situations and recreational activities. Living far away from grandparents and elderly relatives can create a detachment from the olderly and a fear of the aging process, while the older adults may feel lonely without the presence of a child.
Regularly sharing snacks, making crafts, and storytelling helps to bridge this gap. The benefits of an intergenerational program go both ways. The children are able to learn from the older adults, form meaningful connections, and diminish ageist stereotypes. The Maplewood residents receive the joy and energy of children, a new perspective, and retain a feeling of usefulness in their community. When combined, seniors and children offer each other comfort, life lessons and friendship.
Intergenerational programs strengthen communities and contribute to both a healthy aging process and the social development of children. At Canton Day Care Center we are very proud of this program, and are constantly striving to improve the experiences of the children we serve and the community around us.
“The magic in what occurs isn’t necessarily in the structured activity that is taking place, rather the relationships that are formed between the child and the older person.”