Bridging The Years

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Bridging The Years: Teens & Seniors Mix It Up

Bridging the Years: Teens & Seniors Mix It Up highlights three community programs in New York that give teens and seniors opportunities to collaborate on art projects, overcome autism, and develop theatrical productions. While dispelling stereotypes that teens have of seniors and vice versa, the participants convey with humor and warmth the mutual benefits of working together. By hearing their peers' experiences, teens are encouraged to volunteer for work with seniors. By highlighting effective intergenerational initiatives that can be easily replicated, the program encourages schools and community organizations to create their own initiatives to connect teens and seniors.

Clinton Street Seniors and Pleasantville High School students Clinton Street Senior Center/Pleasantville High School
High school art students and older adults at the local senior center have fun working together for months to create an historical mural and intricate mosaic tables for a new public garden. Throughout the project, they realize how much they have common, understand their roots and form ongoing supportive friendships. The segment ends with a large turnout for the garden's dedication at which the Mayor praises the value of the project.

Senior with teen Family Services of Westchester's My Second Home
An assisted senior day center has a variety of intergenerational programs in place to help its older adults maintain a fulfilling lifestyle. High school volunteers realize that seniors aren't boring and can offer useful advice. One unique project pairs autistic teens with surrogate "grandmas and grandpas" who work patiently to improve the teens' communication and social skills. The seniors are so effective that one teen was recently mainstreamed into high school, and we see him return to the center for a touching reunion with his "grandma."

Performers in Phoenix Theatre Ensemble Phoenix Theatre Ensemble
Teaching artists work for 20 weeks with Hispanic women from University Settlement House and a group of at-risk youth from The Door. We see how, through theatre games, improvisations, and their own stories, they develop and perform an original theatre piece off-Broadway on what it means to grow, to become your authentic self -- to "Evolve." The initiative gives the feisty seniors and teens a way to express their unique and dynamic voices, opening communication among themselves as well as between the groups.

This program was underwritten by MetLife Foundation. Recognizing the vital role the arts play in building communities and educating young people, MetLife Foundation contributes to the arts and culture by focusing on increasing opportunities for young people, reaching broader audiences through inclusive programming, and making arts more accessible for all people.

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