What are the key factors in the success of any intergenerational project?
What is the advantage of participating in a full immersion project as opposed to a weekly or monthly (Mama Steps Project) visitation to a seniors’ centre?
This FAQ plays with the very idea of ‘What does it mean to come to know?’ ANY intergenerational connecting has intrinsic value. It really is a matter of the degree of intensity of the connection, and the longevity of the impact. The IG goal is to develop attitudes and understandings during the activity that are deep enough to last throughout the child’s life. There is a greater chance of that happening when the situational context is unique, yet authentic, and the event has longevity.
We want this connecting to be memorable in the bigger picture of the child’s growing up.
Full immersion, like life, is all-encompassing. It is a full experience, authentically connected through involvements that are empowering and life changing. It does not lessen the importance of any other type of intergenerational activity. It is just a different approach that has, in fact, different outcomes.
Ironically, although both groups need time to spend together, and have the time, seniors’ have limitations. You cannot necessarily wait for three years of weekly contact to get to know a senior well. They may not have three years. However, it is conceivable that knowing them everyday for a month or two is probable. Like all things in our busy world, it comes down to, “How can we get the biggest bang for our buck?”
What is the most challenging issue facing parties who want to start any level of IG immersion project?
Finding a space that will double as a meeting area or, in the case of full immersion, a makeshift classroom at the centre is also critical. Although this may be challenging, if your partners are truly interested, it is rarely unsolvable.
What is the Liability/Risk Factor when bringing intergenerational groups together?
Organizers must make certain that they have thoroughly checked the legality of this issue with those who are in charge.
Under the umbrella of ‘informed consent’ both partner groups are generally covered within the normal range of their insurance. In most cases, discussing the IG plans, checking with the insurance providers, informing administration, and requesting and receiving all signed Consent forms are the only steps required. Fear of liability issues, although a common concern, should not deter interested parties in participating in IG activities as long as the proper steps have been taken.
What are the costs involved? Are these significant in a full immersion project?
Crafts and cooking are generally covered by the normal budget of a classroom and a seniors’ facility, and donations are another resource (i.e. yarn for knitting, bits of ribbon etc. for spring bonnet making.)
As the classroom set-up in a full immersion project is minimalist, one truck trip will easily relocate chart paper, an ‘office’ box, a play equipment box, and any furniture that cannot be secured at the centre. Generally centres have fold down tables and extra chairs available during the weekdays for the children’s use.
Students will pare down their requirements and bring much of what they will need in backpacks on the first day at the new classroom, freeing the teacher of responsibility for this added material.
Intergenerational immersion is one of those rare events that costs little and gives back huge returns, and this ensures accessibility and sustainability of the project.