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Growing a Link Between Generations

In the midst of the pandemic emerged a new intergenerational pilot program that has provided a meaningful and strong connection between two generations.

In November 2021, this intergenerational pilot program, led by Link Generations, was brought to Circle of Care through UpSocial Canada, a non-profit organization that helps address social challenges in communities. The pilot program included two sessions with youth from different age groups, with the hopes to provide a connection between younger and older generations.

“For the last two years, we’ve worked with the community to look at ways we can support people who are looking after each other or would like to,” says Geraldine Cahill, Director of UpSocial Canada. “In the area we were looking at, there were a lot of older adults, and I thought the program with Link Generations would have a positive impact and address isolation as well.”

The pilot program had two sessions. The first session took place in November and involved young children aged 6 – 12 who connected virtually via Zoom to clients with Circle of Care.

“I really enjoyed the program,” said Carol P., a Circle of Care client who participated in the program. “I’m a single adult who’s not really exposed to young children and youth, so this program helped enrich my life, and introduced me to the values and interests of young people.”

In February 2022, Circle of Care launched the program again with young adults who were in high school. During this session, clients were able to elaborate and connect deeper to the young adults.

“The most memorable moment for me was when we talked about careers with the young adults,” says Carol P.. “We discussed what their interests were and what their aspirations were, and I had the opportunity to share my experience as well. From that, we really connected with each other.”

For the older adults who participated in the program, each session lasted four weeks. But, for the youth, each session also included a preliminary training session where they had an open dialogue on topics they would like to discuss, and learned about challenges that may occur when communicating with older adults.

“In the training session, we try to get the kids or the youth more engaged by involving them in the session planning and by having them talk about some of the things they’re interested in,” says Lori N. Marks, PhD, Founder and Executive Director of Link Generations. “We also prepare them for some of the more prevalent things they may encounter during the sessions, such as the need to speak up or repeat their questions due to hearing loss amongst the older adults.”

From this pilot program, both the older adults and youth were able to develop meaningful connections and the sessions provided an online community to both generations.

“It was wonderful to hear about the young adults’ positive attitudes to life and to education, as they pursued part-time jobs and/or exciting hobbies that provided them with new friendships and experiences,” says Carol P. “It helped me feel included in a community of people that were interested in talking to each other about their life experiences and providing guidance. It also provided a space where I was surrounded by others I can relate to and connect with. And I needed that in my life.”

Along with developing meaningful connections, each participant from the pilot program often obtained a new perspective to their daily lives.

“One of the things I love about these conversations is that everybody always learns from each other – including myself,” says Lori. “Oftentimes, older adults provide their insights and share their wisdom. The youth also have some wisdom to share. I always look forward to those ‘aha’ moments, where anyone from any age would say something that just makes you think ‘wow, that’s a pearl of wisdom’.”

Over the past two years there has been an increase in isolation amongst older adults. The Link Generations program has been one way of bridging that gap. Circle of Care also offers a variety of other programs and services which are available online or in-person. If you or a loved one are interested in attending one of our programs, visit our Events Calendar to learn more.