Intergenerational dialogue is a great way for individuals to learn and understand each other. Besides, with our families, there aren’t many opportunities for young and older adults to talk to each other about life. Twin Valley Community Education wanted to create a space where children can practice this at school and teach the importance of these connections through hands-on experience. With funding from Berks County Community Foundation, they implemented a new educational project entitled Bridging Generations.
The main purpose of this project is to bridge the gap between generations to promote better communication from different walks of life. Twin Valley Community Education Foundation wanted students to learn about handwritten communication, while simultaneously connecting them with a generation outside of their own. The funding for this program came from the Hawley and Myrtle Quier Fund. This fund makes distributions to improve the quality of life for Berks County residents, with emphasis on the arts, education, women’s issues, children’s issues, and animal welfare. This program was created to foster human connections in our community.
A group of second-grade students at Robeson Elementary Center who were not behind on their schoolwork, and who had an interest, were paired with a participating older adult whom they could become local pen pals with. This program was intended to fill a gap and provide students with an older adult and vice versa. According to Lynn Weller, the program coordinator, “This program was successful in bringing Berk’s older individuals and elementary students together to learn from each other and form friendships in a safe and meaningful way.”
Not only did this program succeed in connecting two different generations, but it also succeeded in teaching children the importance of letter writing and written communication. Weller reported that “before this program, 32% of participants reported that they were unsure how to write a letter, and 79% were unsure how to address a letter.” The program proved to be a positive experience for the older adults who participated as well. Many participants were elated to teach children about the importance of writing. Additionally, it gave them an outlet to share stories and life advice, which they really enjoyed.
Weller mentions that more students will be encouraged to participate in the future, not just those who are ahead with their studies. In addition to this, there is a hope that an event will be hosted at the end of the program where the participating children and their families can meet the senior citizens in person.
While this grant opportunity is no longer available, you can still donate to the Hawley and Myrtle Quier Fund for new future programs by visiting www.bccf.org. If you are looking for funding for your next project, check out other funds that are available at www.bccf.org.