What can connect Spanish speaking residents of the Wien House, an independent living facility managed by the YM&YWHA, and middle school youngsters attending the Inwood Academy for Leadership Charter School? Is it the fact that the young generation of today envisions themselves as tomorrow’s adults taking care of their elders and their community? Is it the fact that the majority of the students come from Spanish speaking families who miss their “abuelas”?..
A group of motivated 7th graders from the Inwood Academy for Leadership Charter School, working on a research project about the challenges and difficulties related to aging and senior citizens, recently answered these questions during a recent visit to the Wien House.
For the Y, it was important to keep an open dialogue between the youth and seniors as intergenerational programming is an important part of its diverse offerings.
For the seniors, sharing their life experiences resulted in sense of purpose.
For the youth, interaction with seniors by sharing traditions and values that cross generations helped dispel stereotypes and provided a better understanding towards aging.
Sharing their wisdom in a meaningful way, the Wien House residents spoke of their early years as young people in their native countries and the struggles they overcame just to reach the United States. Moreover, one could easily notice a sense of nostalgia the tenants felt towards the children and sense of family these two generations had towards one another. It was as if the youth were spending time with their grandparents.
Many laughs were shared, tears shed, and in the end, everyone was invited to a resident’s apartment for dinner of arroz con pollo. Among the seniors was an isolated 95 year old Latina immigrant, without any close relatives or children, who suddenly acquired an extended family, which hopefully will lead to the development of new relationships at the Y.
To contribute to the exciting programming contact Victoria Neznansky at [email protected].
By Francisco Concepcion