intergenerational storytelling

Intergenerational Projects: How They Can Help Young & Old Participants

When we decide to work as a family and include all generations in intergenerational storytelling projects we give each generation the opportunity to learn, to share their experience, to share their perspective, and create a more fuller picture of what the experience and the family history is like. Each generation has an opportunity to share a piece of themselves, join in on the conversation, and learn from each other.

When we take these types of projects outside of a family unit, like in a community center, or with university students working as volunteers with residents in care facilities, you provide an opportunity for generations to

  • come together,
  • create new bonds,
  • have new conversations,
  • and deepen and foster relationships that wouldn’t otherwise happen.

These kinds of experiences are important to every generation

For the people that will be caregivers in another decade or two decades…

These kinds of conversations can happen as children, in their teens, and their twenties. As they reach adulthood they will have a lifetime of experience of working with others in a meaningful and loving way. This experience will help form, and shape, and give them the tools and experiences they need to be quality caregivers later in life.

For young people who haven’t joined the workforce yet there is an opportunity to provide them with valuable experiences that highlight patient centered care intentions. It is never too late to provide that space and opportunity to connect with another person on a deeper level than “did you move your bowels yet today” or “here are your meds”.

For the older generations…

We’re talking about an opportunity for them to share their wisdom, share their experience, share their life lessons, their lessons learned, and all the things they want to be able to share with their families, that maybe their families don’t even know to ask about. To foster these types of intergenerational projects it sometimes takes a little bit of effort of the part of care staff, facility staff and volunteer staff to be able to have these conversations happen.

Taking the time to facilitate these types of conversations and these types of activities in activity centers is beyond, beyond important. Giving your care residents, giving the families the opportunity to come together and work on these intergenerational projects in a facility setting is truly nothing short of a life changing opportunity for the families and for the residents that you’re caring for.

What can these intergenerational projects look like?

They can look like a lot of different things, and it really depends on who’s participating in the conversation, who’s participating in the project, what their abilities are, what your goals are as the facilitator, and as the facilitator what you’re able to do with what’s available. Here are a few things to think about and decide on

  • Are you able to do video recordings?
  • Can you have something set up where you’re documenting?
  • Are you able to have volunteers that can come in regularly to work with residents, to work with family members?
  • Is it possible for you to have family that can come in and work with their loved ones to have these intergenerational projects?

All of these things will shape and inform what the intergenerational projects look like for your community, for your facility, and for your family.

The first thing to do is to identify your abilities, identify the needs, identify your goals, and from there, decide what the project can actually look like, what can be achieved in the time available. You may have a hospice situation, you may have something happening where you only have a short window of time and so a long complicated project isn’t something that’s going to be feasible for you. In those instances you’re going to want to look for alternatives to that, and other opportunities and ways to bring the families together.

Regardless of what you decide, or identify, or determine your needs, and abilities, and goals are, the Legacy Recorder has options for all of those situations. I’ve thought about each and every moment of each situation you may find yourself in. From there I try to identify the best way to apply an intergenerational project and execute it in a manner that is most helpful to the storytelling and your facilitator.

Some of the things I’ve come up with to help your project be successful

  • the words to use to talk to families about it,
  • the educational pieces to talk to your residents, to those you care for
  • where you can find volunteers that might want to come in and help,
  • how to talk to those volunteers,
  • what that training looks like,
  • the ways that these types of projects can be used in long term projects
  • long term items that can be passed on and given to family members.

When you work with the Legacy Recorder, you have access to all of the tools and everything that you would need to facilitate a project like this. I’ve created the backend, the front end, the training, the worksheets, all of the things you need to bring intergenerational storytelling to your community.

How these types of projects can help young and old participants

For the older generations and for the infirm, it gives them an opportunity to impact someone that they would never get to meet otherwise, especially when you’re able to bring in volunteers. These types of conversations can lead to a renewed sense of self, a renewed sense of hope, and a look beyond what they currently live in.

For the young participants, they’re able to create and foster a relationship with a community member who they would never meet otherwise. In many cases, these young people have found that they want to engage with their own families and their own loved ones in an entirely different fashion than they ever have before.

They’ve figured out that they want to spend more time with their friends in meaningful ways that go beyond cell phones, and TV, and gaming. They’re sitting down and having conversations around the kitchen table, they’re cooking together, they’re hiking together, they’re storytelling together, and these types of experiences are not solely localized to the participants themselves.

Anyone who has had an opportunity to talk to one of these individuals can see the change in that person. Staff, family members, mentors of the students, each entity is able to see how this type of project can impact the people who are in it, and around it, and help support it.

Regardless of whether or not you decide to include storytelling in your intergenerational project, I highly encourage you to find a way to implement activities that bring the generations together. You can check out this resource for more information on how to bring different generations together.

Ready to learn about bringing Legacy to your community?

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