Excited preschoolers crowded around men and women old enough to be their grandparents, ready to read.

 

But the people narrating picture books and acting out plotlines with their hands weren’t their relatives. Rather, they were senior citizens at the retirement home and assisted-living facility Legacy Lodge at Jackson Hole.

“I was looking for ways to branch out and try some things that would be really beneficial for our residents,” said Alenlia Woerner, director of life enrichment. “We play a lot of cards around here, but it doesn’t really bring the joy or the engagement I was looking for.”

Woener partnered with Children’s Learning Center teachers Michelle Rutecki and Heather Menke to offer a twice-a-month opportunity for generations to collide and unite over something that makes them both happy: reading. Children’s Learning Center is the area’s largest early education center serving kids ages birth through 5, and it just happens to have a location across the street from Legacy Lodge.

“It’s just wonderful to be able to spend time with older people in a sweet setting,” said Patti Boyd, the learning center’s executive director. “There’s nothing like reading together that is a really intimate, wonderful activity for children to do.”

Legacy Lodge cited information from Generations United, a nonprofit that works to improve the lives of children and older adults, that shows that intergenerational programs are beneficial for all participants. Children show improved reading scores compared with their peers when older adults are frequent volunteers in schools, and interacting with older adults helps kids develop a more positive attitude toward aging, according to the nonprofit.

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