As America’s population ages, many service providers and educators realize the potential in linking young and old people through intergenerational programs. These programs bring together children/youth and older people for mutual benefit. Shared site intergenerational programs are those where both generations receive ongoing services at the same time at a single site. Typically, these programs include a child care program with a nursing home or adult day services program. Intergenerational shared sites can contribute to positive relationships and emotional well being of young and elderly participants while supporting family caregivers.
Effective intergenerational programming is powerful, and yet it does not always come naturally. Working with young children and frail elders presents unique developmental and generational challenges as well as opportunities (How many 30 year olds can tell us what it is like riding a mule to school and how many 40 year olds were operating computers at the age of 5?). Planning, using evidence based practices, and evaluating outcomes are integral to building and sustaining a successful intergenerational program. At shared sites intergenerational opportunities foster community capacity or a sense of collective competence and shared responsibility community members feel for each other. The whole is greater than the sum of the parts!