May 2021 - Parks & Recreation - 22

HEALTH & WELLNESS

Together, Apart
The benefits of intergenerational programs during COVID-19 and beyond
By Lori N. Marks, Ph.D.

W

hen the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic hit, intergenerational programs - those that unite younger and older
generations in meaningful, purposeful activities - scrambled to maintain social connections between people of all
ages while meeting critical needs in their communities.
Kind2Kupuna, a project of
Age-Friendly Honolulu in Hawaii,
began collecting hopeful messages
and pictures from keiki (elementary,
middle and high school students)
for kupuna (older adults). The
messages and drawings have been
made into collages and distributed
to kupuna in several assisted living

A growing body
of research shows
that every age
group benefits
when different
generations come
together for a
common cause.

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| M AY 2 02 1 | PA R K S A N D R E C R E AT I O N .O R G

communities, senior centers and
kupuna meal provider locations.
As the world went virtual, many
other intergenerational programs
turned to online platforms. SAGEConnect, a program of SAGE - a
national organization that provides
advocacy and services for LGBT
elders - launched in April 2020 to
address growing concerns of social
isolation for all ages. The program
connects LGBTQ+ older adults
across the United States with casual, weekly phone or video calls
from a younger volunteer.
Other programs looked for ways
to safely connect older and younger people outdoors. As part of its
AGE to Age program, the Northland Foundation in northern Minnesota sponsored 11 community
gardens in 2020, bringing together
nearly 200 young people and older
volunteers. While maintaining safe
distances, people of all ages worked
together to plant and maintain the
gardens. The harvested produce
benefited the volunteer gardeners
and was shared with local assisted
living facilities and food banks.
Other examples of how intergenerational professionals adapted programs and activities during
the COVID-19 pandemic can be
found in Generations United's new
resource on intergenerational pro-

grams and the COVID-19 pandemic
(tinyurl.com/5d38ff76).
These programs' creative attempts
at building strong, albeit virtual or
physically distant, communities are
in line with this year's theme for
Older Americans Month, " Communities of Strength, " and can serve as
inspiration for park and recreation
professionals who are seeking creative, engaging ways to meet the
needs in their own communities.
Even before the COVID-19 pandemic forced all ages to self-isolate,
the United States was facing a loneliness epidemic affecting both older
and younger generations. The negative impacts of social isolation and
loneliness are well documented,
and research suggests that remaining socially engaged can improve
these outcomes. In fact, a 2018
survey by Generations United and
The Eisner Foundation found that
92 percent of Americans believe
intergenerational activities can help
reduce loneliness across all ages.
Intergenerational programs -
like Kind2Kupuna, SAGEConnect
and AGE to Age - intentionally
unite the generations in ways that
enrich participants' lives. Those
programs, according to Generations
United's Making the Case for Intergenerational Programs, also build on the
positive resources that younger and
older generations have to offer each
other and their communities.
A growing body of research shows
that every age group benefits when
different generations come together
for a common cause. For young peo-


http://www.tinyurl.com/5d38ff76

May 2021 - Parks & Recreation

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of May 2021 - Parks & Recreation

May 2021 - Parks & Recreation - Intro
May 2021 - Parks & Recreation - Cover1
May 2021 - Parks & Recreation - Cover2
May 2021 - Parks & Recreation - 1
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May 2021 - Parks & Recreation - Cover3
May 2021 - Parks & Recreation - Cover4
https://ezine.nrpa.org/nrpa/ParksRecreationMagazine/july-2022
https://ezine.nrpa.org/nrpa/ParksRecreationMagazine/june-2022
https://ezine.nrpa.org/nrpa/ParksRecreationMagazine/may-2022
https://ezine.nrpa.org/nrpa/ParksRecreationMagazine/april-2022
https://ezine.nrpa.org/nrpa/ParksRecreationMagazine/march-2022
https://ezine.nrpa.org/nrpa/ParksRecreationMagazine/february-2022
https://ezine.nrpa.org/nrpa/ParksRecreationMagazine/january-2022
https://ezine.nrpa.org/nrpa/ParksRecreationMagazine/december-2021
https://ezine.nrpa.org/nrpa/ParksRecreationMagazine/november-2021
https://ezine.nrpa.org/nrpa/ParksRecreationMagazine/october-2021
https://ezine.nrpa.org/nrpa/ParksRecreationMagazine/september-2021
https://ezine.nrpa.org/nrpa/ParksRecreationMagazine/august-2021
https://ezine.nrpa.org/nrpa/ParksRecreationMagazine/july-2021
https://ezine.nrpa.org/nrpa/ParksRecreationMagazine/june-2021
https://ezine.nrpa.org/nrpa/ParksRecreationMagazine/may-2021
https://ezine.nrpa.org/nrpa/ParksRecreationMagazine/april-2021
https://ezine.nrpa.org/nrpa/ParksRecreationMagazine/march-2021
https://www.nxtbookmedia.com