Building Connections Between Generations: Students Pair Senior Citizens with Kids

Posted by on April 29, 2014

For the applied learning project for their Public Health course, four Minnesota School of Business-Shakopee students decided to investigate the issue of mental health needs. Al Lavender, Rachael Bossley, Amanda Jacobs, and Nicole Gaebel partnered with 2 community entities: Friendship Manor, a nursing home in Shakopee, and Sweeney Elementary school in Shakopee.

Applied Learning, Shakopee, Friendship Manor, Sweeney Elementary

From left to right: Rachael Bossley, Al Lavender, Instructor Kyle Svee and Nicole Gaebel. Not Pictured: Amanda Jacobs

The goal of the project was to examine the benefits of senior adult mental health by bringing senior citizens together with elementary school children.

In the process kids were paired with older adults so that they could learn from each other. The project helped build connections between the two generations. Adults were able to benefit mentally by being around a younger generation, thus making them feel younger again. In addition, the kids benefited by feeling more at ease around older adults and by learning from their many years of wisdom.

Jay Moore, Applied Learning Coordinator, said, “It was great to see two totally different generations working together to help educate each other; both the senior citizens and the elementary kids benefited from and enjoyed the experience.”  And the instructor for the class, Kyle Svee, added, “It is always rewarding to see a class project impact the community.”

At the conclusion of the project a presentation was given both at the nursing home and at the elementary school citing the many benefits that resulted from this collaboration between two very different generations.  The results found that both parties benefited tremendously from interacting with each other. Both groups also hope to continue this partnership in the future in order to improve mental health.


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