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Birmingham - March 2023


Intergenerational programs are meaningful, important, and fun. They bolster a strong sense of community, and research shows that every age group is positively impacted.


Intergenerational connections promote greater understanding and respect between generations, with both groups coming together to learn from each other – and dispel preconceived prejudices. But just like any prejudice, it usually comes down to a lack of familiarity. Growing up is similar to growing older. Surprisingly, both young adults and aging adults face many of the same concerns. There are lessons to be learned from each other – and both generations simultaneously benefit.


As an example of these prejudices, think about these statements, what group do you think they apply to?


1. I hate the way they drive.

2. They are so opinionated, they think they know everything.

3. Don’t hire them, they are undependable.

4. They are always so forgetful.

5. They don’t have a care in the world.

6. They don’t understand the world around them.


What were your answers? See, not so different after all.


The positive outcomes of intergenerational programs are well documented:


There is a greater sense of connection by allowing different generations to learn from one another, form new friendships and improve communities by combating negative stereotypes.


Intergenerational programming also provides new social roles. Each individual, younger and older, is able to serve as a teacher, a mentor or even a grandparent/grandchild to someone who may not otherwise have that tie.


Intergenerational programming uniquely allows for generations to share stories with each other and pass on traditions, allowing for a better understanding of lifestyles both similar to and different from one’s own.


For several years, Next has been involved with school age students as young as third grade through high school. Currently, each week Next hosts more than 75 Seaholm High School students in three different programs participating in round-table conversations with Next members from age 70 to 97. Topics range from very personal conversations, to broader topics about the world around us. Next members share what their experiences were like when they were young, from living through wars, a void of current technologies, to the new freedoms of the 60’s and 70’s. Students are able to share their accomplishments and their challenges in a time when there is so much pressure, discourse, mental health and safety concerns. But much more often than some of those difficult subjects, there is a lot of laughter, lively conversations and enthusiasm heard throughout the hallways of Next.


Our community is enhanced by the growing population of elders. Older volunteers possess a lifetime of experience, skills, and knowledge. Their passion and wisdom can improve the academic, health, and social conditions of a child, teenager, or young adult through cultivated friendships.


With intergenerational programs, there is so much to learn, understand and takeaway from both generations, creating a stronger, more inclusive community.


Learn more about Next at BirminghamNext.org , stop in any time at 2121 Midvale, Birmingham or call at (248) 203-5270.


Cris Braun is Executive Director of Birmingham Next

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