To educate middle and high school students about aging and facilitate intergenerational programs that connect youth and older adults in dynamic activities that benefit both populations.
Programs are developed in partnership with local high schools, recruiting students to participate as part of their community service graduation requirement. Students convene after school to plan structured activities appropriate for elderly residents in nearby assisted living facilities. As part of the after-school program, students are trained in basic principles of adult development and aging as well as practical techniques for working with older adults who have cognitive and physical limitations.
Students design and lead activities that target cognitive stimulation, social interaction, and physical movement. Examples of activities are music, life storytelling, art, and dance. Students draw on their own interests in these areas to help them feel comfortable working with elderly individuals.
Outcomes of these programs are benefits to both populations and to the community. Specifically, older adults feel a sense of purpose, connection to others, gain cognitive stimulation, and engage in social interaction through telling their stories to students.
Adolescents improve self-esteem, learn to be with older adults, learn about history, and fulfill social service and academic requirements. Finally, with changing demographics, society needs more people knowledgeable and willing to work with elderly populations. Intergenerational programming is a solution to this growing problem.
Link Generations was founded by Lori N. Marks, PhD based on her 25 years in education and gerontology. She has built a vast network of professionals through teaching at the University of Maryland University College, leading the education and training division of a national medical association, volunteering in local schools and assisted living facilities.
Link Generations was recognized as a 2018 Program of Distinction by Generations United, the national policy association founded to improve the lives of children, youth and older people through intergenerational collaboration. The Generations United Program of Distinction is awarded to organizations with the most effective intergenerational programs based on tested metrics that determine high quality. By winning this designation, Link Generations becomes a nationally-recognized benchmark program.