Creating Intergenerational Connections­ Good for Our Mental Health and Our Community

What do children and older adults have in common? In San Diego the answer is lots! For the last decade strides have been made in bringing together these two generations to share their talents and resources.

When young and old play together, everyone benefits. According to Generations United, older adults who interact with the younger generation experience less stress, are socially connected, more active, rediscover their capacity for joy and fun, and have better mental and physical health. Benefitting from positive relationships with an adult mentor, children and youth develop a sense of purpose and citizenship, enhance their problem-solving skills, improve in school and are less likely to get in trouble, drink or use drugs. Communities benefit when all ages are engaged and feel included.

In San Diego County, which was recently recognized as one of “America’s Best Intergenerational Communities” and awarded the MetLife Foundation award by the national organization Generations United, there are a multitude of programs and activities to choose from.

The annual Intergenerational Games allow children and older adults to participate in competitive physical activities together to build camaraderie and encourage trust through fun. The San Diego Community Garden Network is a county-wide program that brings community members of all ages together to garden and learn about health and nutrition.

St. Paul’s Senior Homes & Services Intergenerational Daycare is the first of its kind to provide daily interaction between older adults and young children, offering fun-filled activities such as arts and crafts and story time.

La Mesa resident Ed Clavell has been volunteering with Walk ’n’ Roll, an intergenerational initiative where older adults are the “eyes on the street” as children walk or bike to and from school each day. “As a retired person, it’s too easy to just sit around on the couch all day in front of the TV. Volunteering with La Mesa’s Walk ’n’ Roll gives me a reason to get up early every morning and stay productive throughout the day.”

For more information and to get involved please contact: Aging & Independence Services at 858-495-5769.