The bond between grandparent and grandchild is special. The combination of wise older age and energetic youth creates a kind of magic that is hard to encapsulate. But the benefit of this connection doesn’t have to be familial, and studies show that intergenerational connections are a boon for both young and old. It’s this mutual benefit that has led to a partnership between Brawerman Elementary School East and Wallis Annenberg GenSpace.
Intergenerational connection has been found to foster self-esteem and social skills in young people while combating isolation in older adults and contributing to better overall health. Young people have been found to learn better patience while being exposed to new perspectives and cultures, and older adults find a sense of purpose in their interactions with young people.
Knowing these benefits, Brawerman and GenSpace have partnered on several programs that aim to foster connection and learning between students and older adults. Fifth- and sixth-grade students from Brawerman are currently providing weekly tech support to GenSpace members at the center’s tech bar. Students help older adults troubleshoot problems with their devices or learn how to better use them. This program allows students to use their expertise and leadership skills to teach while older adults get the help they need and are energized by the young people.
Intergenerational activities have also been found to dispel ageist stereotypes and change the way people view older adults, which is a top priority for GenSpace.
“Our members love interacting with students at our tech bar. There is something very special when non-related intergenerational pairs come together,” says Dr. Jennifer Wong, director of GenSpace. “Young people and older adults often work as co-learners or co-creators and they share stories about shared interests. This is exactly the kind of intergenerational programming we want to offer —one that defeats ageist stereotypes while fostering connection.”
The intergenerational programming doesn’t stop at tech. Brawerman’s third- and fourth-grade students participate in intergenerational storytelling at GenSpace as well. This weekly gathering provides students with an opportunity to share about themselves and learn about older adults, helping them find common interests in spite of differences in age. And in GenSpace’s art room, second graders from Brawerman pursue their creativity in a weekly art class, attending alongside GenSpace members as they enjoy each other’s company while creating together.
“Through this partnership with GenSpace, Brawerman reaches beyond the classroom to make a difference in the lives of older adults while reinforcing our commitment to teaching responsible leadership and innovative thinking,” says Noa Grant, director of school communications for Brawerman Elementary Schools and Wilshire Boulevard Temple Early Childhood Centers. “We’ve seen the benefit of exposing students to diverse cultures and age groups and we’re thrilled to work with our neighbor just a few steps away to create moments for learning and connecting with a different generation.”
Brawerman is deeply committed to creating high-quality intergenerational experiences for students. The Early Childhood Center creates intergenerational experiences for children. The students receive undivided presence from older adults while being encouraged to see a new perspective. And older adults who participate in the Early Childhood Center Partnership find a sense of value playing this role in children’s lives.
To learn more about Brawerman Elementary East, visit brawerman.org/east/admissions-east or contact Chris Donohoe at 213-835-2173 for more information or to schedule a visit. To learn more about Wilshire Boulevard Temple’s Erika J. Glazer Childhood Center, visit wbtecc.org/ or contact Floryn Rosenberg at 213-835-2125.
To learn more about GenSpace’s classes and programming, visit genspace.la. If you are interested in offering your experience as a teacher or as a volunteer at GenSpace, visit the website. Check out GenSpace’s class schedule here.