Seniors, Teens and Tykes

Enriching Programs Unite the Generations

In intergenerational programs throughout the U.S. and in Europe, thousands of “youngers” and “elders” are building bridges that were forged naturally before family members spread out and many retirees departed for warmer climes.

Based on a U.S. adult population of 41 million people 65 years and older and 74 million youths up to the age of 17, the current generation gap is already unprecedented. By 2030, those numbers will increase to 72 million and 80 million, respectively, according to the international nonprofit Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation. Along with Generation Waking Up, Wiser Together and others, it’s working to foster better social cohesion in ways that help individuals of all ages lead richer and more rewarding lives.

Two-Way Mentoring

Providing nurturing opportunities for individuals to look at life through the eyes of others with dissimilar experiences that have led them to different assumptions and perspectives on life can be helpful. Broadening everyone’s relationship scope to include “May-December” friendships creates the potential for the kind of life-changing possibilities experienced by a troubled young man named Harold when he struck up a surprising friendship with a life-loving woman as old as his grandmother in the film Harold and Maude.

In real life, “I had the blessing of growing up in an intergenerational family,” says Yvette McGlasson, director of port revenue for the PPI Group, in Pompano, Florida. The 17-year veteran of the cruise industry is a former Holland America cruise director whose career at sea launched her into work as a director of events for age-restricted (55-plus) gated communities such as Del Webb Lake Providence, near Nashville.

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