Connecting Generations Through Arts

The Cause

What is your idea?
LINKages Society of Alberta has been providing intergenerational programs and services in Alberta schools and senior care centres for the last 21 years. In the 2014-15 school year, our programs were delivered in 15 schools and care centres in Calgary. In any one calendar year, our school programs and community initiatives reach out to about 1200 youths and seniors.
Having amassed substantial experience and expertise in the field of intergenerational programs, LINKages is uniquely positioned to augment its content and impact with creative elements. With this new initiative of Linking Generations Through Arts, LINKages will develop and implement a creative arts component to all school based and community based intergenerational programs. Specifically, LINKages will work with local organizations/individuals with unique expertise in the area of music, art and movement to augment existing content along with input from youths and seniors. Youths will receive training and orientation to engage seniors and will visit with their senior throughout the entire school year. All visits are planned and structured and in this case, unique arts content will be introduced throughout. Evaluation tools will be developed to measure the effectiveness of the new content, the extent of engagement and skills development as well as observable benefits of the new engagement. With this new initiative, youths can achieve improved engagement with seniors through selecting and enjoying favorite music selections; delve in unique art mediums such as sketching or drawing and embrace moderate physical activities in the form of dance and movement. The introduction of various arts activities will facilitate the striking of meaningful and sustainable connections between generations resulting in increased engagement for youths and improved health and well being for the seniors.

Who Will it Benefit?

Who will it benefit?
Linking Generations Through Arts project will uniquely benefit both ends of the vulnerable population spectrum, that is, the youths and the seniors. This new intergenerational initiative will provide leadership opportunities for youths who will benefit from the training and opportunities to gain insights and understanding into the lives of seniors; the challenges they encounter on a daily basis and most importantly, their potential to contribute to society by being a friend and mentor to a young person. By committing to visiting with a senior friend for an entire school year, youths also learn the value of commitment, citizenship, time management and most of all, what it feels like to be needed. After delivering intergenerational programs for the last 21 years, LINKages has well documented evidence and best practices that point to the fact that the well being and health of seniors improve as a result of their association and engagement with youths. Seniors also regain a sense of self-worth, self-confidence and renewed vigor in life. Recreation therapists often comment that seniors who participate in the LINKages intergenerational programs become happier and overall more sociable as a result of participating in the program. The addition of an arts component will greatly facilitate the forming of meaningful relationships and has been proven to bring benefits to both the care receiver and care giver.