Intergenerational Programming Study Cites Kendal Examples

Jan. 10, 2018— A new report describing the findings from a yearlong study on the nature and extent of intergenerational programming in senior housing includes references to successful programs at both Kendal at Oberlin and Kendal-Crosslands Communities. Generations United and LeadingAge conducted the study—“Intergenerational Programming in Senior Housing: From Promise to Practice”—with support from the Retirement Research Foundation.

“Residents at housing communities with a long-standing, mission-based intergenerational focus are active in planning and participating in intergenerational programming,” the report notes. “At Kendal-Crosslands, … an Intergenerational Committee comprised of an active group of residents, identify pressing community needs, locate appropriate community partners, and recruit volunteers. At Kendal at Oberlin, a Resident Volunteer Clearinghouse disseminates information about volunteer opportunities to residents.”

Participants in the study at Kendal at Oberlin included CEO Barbara Thomas, Early Learning Center Director Jeni Hoover and Michele Tarsitano-Amato, Director of Creative Arts Therapy. The report includes this quote from Barbara: “We customize intergenerational experiences for our students. We want our volunteers to share their talents.”

The report also quotes Kendal-Crosslands resident Betty Warner, who notes that residents of senior living communities often become isolated from their neighbors. “We want to broaden the horizons of residents and keep them in touch with the outside world,” Betty says.

On Oct. 30 at its annual meeting in New Orleans, LeadingAge awarded Kendal-Crosslands Communities its 2017 Hobart Jackson Diversity and Inclusion Award for the community’s five-year collaboration with educators and advocates to create the Chester Charter School for the Arts in Chester, Pennsylvania, one of the poorest cities in the nation.

The research report highlights challenges and effective strategies for overcoming barriers to intergenerational programming, and identifies technical assistance needs. It also includes four “Spotlights” that focus on different ways providers can integrate multigenerational activities into senior housing.

The study’s key findings include the following:

  • Many housing providers have integrated a range of intergenerational activities into their overall programming and see positive benefits for residents and youth.
  • Most intergenerational efforts identified are short-term or one-time events and do not require a major commitment of time.
  • Most providers have not identified clear outcomes for older adults or youth, nor have they conducted formal program evaluations.
  • There is limited training of staff and volunteers.

Beryl Goldman, who retired in 2016 as Director of Kendal Outreach, served on an advisory panel to help guide the research study.