Young and old connect

Young and old connect during quarantine and magic happens.

Behavior, ,

We are in special times. Most of it is horrible, but if we are smart, we can find some good things that the quarantine can bring us, such as being closer to our family and loved ones. 

A wise person was asked recently:  what is the worst thing that can happen during this pandemic? His answer: to not take advantage of this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Meaning, we can use this time of hardship to grow as a person; perhaps become emotionally stronger, smarter, or more loving. 

As an example, this project, sponsored by an Episcopal church in the US, is connecting teenagers at St. Stephen’s and St. Agnes school with older adults living in a retirement community near Washington, D.C. Valentina Raman, a director at the school, noted that older adults were stuck without outside physical contact, and that the students were suffering as well. She said “There was a mutual need. Our students were also feeling the effects of not being able to see their friends; they also felt the loneliness and isolation of the moment.”

So a test program was established that connected students with volunteers from the retirement community. Each participant wrote a few lines of text about what they were looking for, and the pairs were matched up. They started to communicate by phone, text, email, Zoom, or Skype, depending upon what the older person was comfortable with.

Interestingly, many of the pairs communicated by telephone, as some of the older participants did not have cellphones, so used landlines. The kids found this fascinating, almost exotic, as some had never talked to someone who only had a landline. Talking by telephone, and not text, was strange for some. But they all adjusted, and the results have been amazing, for each of the 28 pairs. The results have been so positive that there is a waiting list of students who want to participate. 

Many of the pairs talk a few times each week, some every day. The mother of one of the students, Callie, remarked “I can’t think of anyone, ever, that Callie has spent this much time on the phone with. Callie at the dinner table will talk about things she and Ms. Gillespie have talked about. You can see a little pep in her step after each conversation.”

The students are often fascinated to hear about what the seniors went through in their lives, and the seniors love hearing the fresh perspectives on life from the students. While some students regularly communicate with their own grandparents, they say they appreciate having a viewpoint from an older person outside of their family circle, someone who gives different perspectives and sometimes, advice.

The plan is that once the epidemic is over, to have a reception so all the participants can meet in person. Valentina Raman expects the program to go on even after the epidemic, and they are expanding the program to new schools. She notes, “This is such a simple and meaningful way for intergenerational relationships to be fostered. . .The hope is that we’re planting seeds for something even greater to grow, and shifting to a society that’s more connected and more supportive of one another, even beyond this moment.”

Read more about what connects these two groups in this Washington Post article.

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Esta postagem também está disponível em: Portuguese (Brazil)

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