Benefits of Intergenerational Programs
For the Community
- Strengthens Community: Intergenerational programs bring together diverse groups and networks and help to dispel inaccurate stereotypes. Sharing talents and resources help to create a unified group identity. Children, youth, and older adults are less alienated while the community recognizes that they are contributing members of society.
- Maximizes Human Resources: Intergenerational community service programs tend to multiply human resources by engaging older adults and youth as volunteers.
- Maximizes Financial Resources: When groups representing young and old approach local funders, those funders are more likely to respond positively because they can see broad-based community support. Intergenerational programs can save money and stretch scarce resources by sharing sites and/or resources.
- Expands Services: Intergenerational community service programs can expand the level of services to meet more needs and address more issues.
- Encourages Cultural Exchange: Intergenerational programs promote the transmission of cultural traditions and values from older to younger generations, helping to build a sense of personal and societal identity while encouraging tolerance.
- Inspires Collaboration: Intergenerational programs can unite community members to take action on public policy issues that address human needs across the generations.
For Youth and Children
- Enhances Social Skills: Interaction with older adults enhances communication skills, promotes self-esteem, develops problem-solving abilities, and fosters friendships across generations. Positive attitudes are developed regarding sense of purpose and community service. Additionally, youth involved in mentoring programs have been show to be almost one-third less likely to hit others.
- Improves Academic Performance: Intergenerational programs increase school attendance and performance. Students tutored by older adults made significantly greater gains in achievement test scores than other students.
- Decreases Drug Use: Youth involved in intergenerational mentoring programs are 46% less likely to report the initiation of drug use, and among minority youth that statistic increased to 70%.
- Increases Stability: Children and youth gain positive role models with whom they can interact on a regular basis. Older adult volunteers help to provide children and youth with consistency through mentoring and in child care facilities that average a 25-35% turnover rate.
For Older Adults
- Enhances Socialization: Older adults remain productive, useful, and contributing members of society. They increase interaction with children and youth and engage more with one another to prevent isolation in later years.
- Stimulates Learning: Older adults learn new innovations and technologies from their younger counterparts.
- Increases Emotional Support: Intergenerational programs afford older adults an opportunity to participate in a meaningful activity. This decreases loneliness, boredom, and depression while increasing self-esteem. Older volunteers report more enriched lives, a rejuvenated sense of purpose, and increased coping skills for their personal struggles.
- Improves Health: Helping contributes to the maintenance of good health, and can diminish the effect of psychological and physical diseases and disorders.
Structure of intergenerational environmental education programs
First of all, intergenerational environmental education programs can be found in almost every type of location and setting. This includes schools, environmental centers, parks and playgrounds, community centers, city streets, vacant lots, cornfields, farms, and along stream banks.
There is also great diversity in how these programs are structured. School-based initiatives often incorporate a service-learning component. Initiatives with environmental agencies as partners generally focus on environmental health issues or on issues tied to protecting local natural resources. Programs also vary depending on the availability of resources, participants, needs of the community.
Activities can fit into three broad categories: promoting environmental awareness, conducting research on environmental issues, and taking action to preserve or improve the environment. However, while unique in some respects, these activities are all integrated.
Characteristics do intergenerational environmental education programs
Learning is "information rich", "experience rich", and "reflection rich". The age diversity of the groups of participants contributes to the depth and diversity of information and the issues presented for discussion and debate. Cross-generational interaction catalyzes the creative processes and opens ideas for exploring.
These programs make the environment seem more relevant. The projects help participants to learn how the environment can influence them on a personal level.
They also teach important values. Intergenerational environmental education projects can instill a sense of "environmental stewardship," a lifelong ethic of community service, and the concept of working hard results in future returns.
Intergenerational environmental education teaches how the environment changes over time. As the physical environment changes, so does the way that people interact with it. Such changes are often difficult to observe during a short-term program. Through intensive intergenerational dialogue, program participants can piece together a longer-term view of the environment that includes the past and projects into the future.
And lastly, these programs promote inclusiveness and collaboration
in local environmental improvement efforts. EPA’s position regarding
public involvement in environmental protection and improvement efforts
is expressed in a formal policy statement. There is an array of resources
including manuals, brochures, activity toolkits, technical assistance
meetings and information posted on EPA’s website for public use.
They can be accessed at: Public