Intergenerational Connection

Colette Ernst, Success by 6 Coordinator

This coming week we celebrate Grizfest. And this musical event is launched by a parade that brings all ages together to celebrate what makes our community great.

We live in community where each individual has value and a part to play. The role of grandparent or elders is often ignored in modern culture where the focus is on economics and business, yet looking back into our history the elders of the community were the story tellers, the sharers of wisdom and taught us how to be human. Some of my greatest memories were with my grandparents.

When we would go to visit, my grandfather would be up in the morning singing military songs while cooking breakfast. He showed me how to garden and the importance of small tasks to the greater plan, and showed me the being silly was ok at any age. I was inspired to be imaginative with fishing games and encouraged to rise to the challenge with silly food games at the table.

Today family members are living further apart from each other and the natural intergenerational composition is being lost. Further, society has become more age-segregated and there are few opportunities for interaction between generations. This leads to increased stereotypes as a lack of understanding is propagated between generations. Recognizing each person’s value and linking all generations builds strong community. It is said that children are our future, and seniors are our history. Yet both have impact on our present.

Creating opportunities for intergenerational connections builds our community by providing a greater awareness of issues facing each generation and breaking down age- based stereotypes as well as many other advantages.

There is value in finding meaningful living at every age. My grandparents were able to reap the benefits of a lifetime of work by having the freedom to travel, garden, and volunteer in their community. These lessons were taught to my parents who, now that they are retired, are following in the same path. As grandparents there is a “joyful freedom” when connecting with children—all of the joys of parenting with none of the pressures.

Preschoolers and Seniors have common ground. In a world that often values getting things productivity, children and seniors are more closely connected with the essence of living—of being instead of doing.

Recently in Powell River my sister, Beau Soleil Preschool educator Danielle Walford, started a small mobile daycare which visited the local seniors at Willingdon Creek Village for a regular play date.

The idea of creating programs and facilities that allow for connections to be made between preschool aged children and older adults is bringing joy and wonder back into the lives of many people. Danielle brings a selection of toys, songs, parachutes and puppets to allow both ages to find common ground in jointly beneficial activities.

According to the Powell River Peak, who first wrote about the intergenerational program, the “popup up preschool” is really positive for everyone. Many residents don’t have extended family with little kids who visit and the children benefit from the love and attention of older “adopted grandparents.”

Tumbler Ridge has many events throughout the year where people from all walks of life and every age join together to achieve common goals. Summer started with the community wide Canada Day Event, keeps going with Grizfest and the Emperor’s Challenge, and ends with the Duck Race. And that’s only two months!

In small communities like Powell River and Tumbler Ridge these connections between generations are key to building a strong community where all ages are valued and can find meaning. Strong intergenerational connections improves self-esteem, confidence and wellbeing for all involved.

So if you are looking for a way to get connected in Tumbler Ridge, consider becoming part of something that spans the generations. Volunteer at the library during reading club, sign up to help out with an upcoming community event or join a club that includes all ages.