Linking Generations was established in 2004 as an intergenerational program that encourages “bridging the gap” between seniors and youth. We are registered as a Non-Profit Society with the Government of Alberta and as Registered Charity with the Government of Canada.
The purpose of our program is to bring the generations together so they can learn from each other, share their life experiences, and to encourage volunteering and social responsibility in youth. This is done through “mentored structured visits”. Students and seniors volunteer their time to visit each week beginning in October and ending in May. Each visit has a specific goal in mind whether that is for the youth to experience the past through the eyes of their senior, for the seniors to learn about current technology and the fast-paced lives the students lead or just to bring joy into each other’s hearts. Our programs match 2 students with one senior. We find there is such interest in our program that seniors continue to come back year-after-year, of course as their heath allows. And, our students normally volunteer through grades 7 – 9 and often again in high school.
Linking Generations places great value upon volunteers. Our seniors and students volunteer their time for training sessions, program visits, family meet and greet special events and year-end program evaluation sessions. In addition, the Linking Generations Board of Directors and our team donate many volunteer hours.
Linking Generations continues to address the need for Community Connectedness & Social Responsibility. As part of the New Social Services Framework, Linking Generations address’s Community Connectedness, Inclusion and Isolation.
As the aging population continues to rise rapidly, age segregation and isolation are on the increase. Intergenerational connections are proven to enrich the lives of both youth and seniors in long-lasting and meaningful ways. In today’s world, many young people are experiencing less interaction with seniors because of homogeneous neighborhoods, dispersed extended families, and increasing segregation of seniors living in care facilities. It is important for today’s youth to find ways to engage and develop relationships with the elderly, as these experiences can build self-esteem, develop leadership skills, and educate as to the benefits of a lifelong commitment to volunteering. For seniors, intergenerational connections provide the opportunity to transfer knowledge and wisdom, acknowledge self worth, and continue to feel as they are contributing members of society.
We hear the most heart-warming stories from the seniors as to how much it means for them to have ‘their kids’ share part of their life. It is something to see the seniors anxiously waiting for their students to arrive. Then the hugs and smiles begin. Our program also helps to break down stereotypes – seniors are not really old & boring. They love to have fun and have great sense of humor. And, our community is full of wonderful teenagers – those with kind, caring hearts and interest in helping our community to be a wonderful place to live.
Linking Generations continues to be very well supported and recognized in the community as the organization where kind souls connect. We have been recognized by Strathcona County Council for the outstanding commitment to the improvement of the quality of life of our local seniors.