LinkAGES at Kavod Senior Life
Kavod Senior Life
There are more than 400 residents at Kavod Senior Life. Some of them have family who visit frequently, while others do not for their own personal circumstances. Kavod wanted its residents’ experience to be one of a complete community. So they welcomed in what was missing: children, high school kids, college students, and young adults.
Since 2016, LinkAGES at Kavod Senior Life partnered to facilitate six intergenerational programs. Throughout that time, elder residents and young people have connected with one another to create meaningful relationships. They’ve done this by sharing stories through photographs as well as creating new memories in shared activities like painting. Programs have also celebrated participants’ shared Jewish culture through Challah making and and Sukkah decorating.
Partner programs include: University of Denver Photography, Jewish Student Connection (JSC), Opening Minds through Art (OMA); Music and Memory; B’nai Havurah; and Jewish in the City- Chabad of Downtown.
“First of all, we feel like this is our family and we need that. Many of us don’t have our family here so this is like substitutes, like I adopted them and they adopted me. This is very important for people not to feel alone.”
-Carmelit Lucarelli, Kavod Resident
“Going to Kavod and talking and connecting with the residents there has really meant a lot to me. I’ve learned a lot of lessons and I’ve made great friendships, and I think that the impact that will have on me will last a lifetime.”
–Yoni Manor, Youth Participant
LinkAGES 2020: Making Magic & Finding Resilience
Featuring the Collaborative, Passage of Heros, and Photography and Memory
LinkAGES seeks to connect people across generations. In 2020, people across the world felt social isolation and loneliness on a deep level. While many programs were shutting down, LinkAGES continued meeting every month. As a Collaborative, we remained connected to one another and helped each other troubleshoot a really challenging time in everyone’s lives.
The Collaborative’s member organizations really leaned on one another and became willing to be vulnerable with one another. When community leaders can express their humanity in this way, the magic of collaboration comes alive. This is what ultimately makes all our missions stronger. As a Collaborative, we found ways to continue offering programs. Our 2020 video explores how two programs managed to forge ahead despite the obstacles. Through it all, participants and program leaders found friendships and hope.
The Photography and Memory program is offered every year by University of Denver with various partners. The Passage of Heroes program connects high school seniors, here Golden High School in Colorado, with Veterans. The Collaborative is made up of many member organizations.
“It was really interesting to me to learn more about the strength and the courage it took to be in that position [a war veteran]. Other than our grandparents, we don’t have a lot of experience or interaction with the older generation… I think they were surprised about how it really was so influential.”
-Ella Ganter, Golden US Senior
“I’m proud of that generation of young people. I’m 84 years old, they were 18 years old– that’s a lot of years difference, and yet, I didn’t feel a difference with them. I felt very loved and very accepted.”
-Sylvia Glorso, Korean Era Vet and Passage of Heroes Participant
Kavod Senior Life, housing and service provider for older adults, and the University of Denver School of Art & Art History-Photography created a powerful connection opportunity between 18 pairs of college freshmen and Kavod residents. The question “what one photograph would you take with you if your home caught fire?” provided a catalyst for storytelling and sharing memories between the photographers and the subjects, who held their cherished photos while being photographed. Pairs collaborated over the course of two sessions to share memories and take formal portraits. All participants celebrated each other and the final products – a “magazine” of all the photographs and a local gallery display – during a gallery walk and reception.
The evaluation showed overwhelmingly positive feedback from both older adults and students. Both groups felt more connected to each other through this program. Ageism towards older adults and younger generations decreased over time. Students specifically noted they felt more comfortable with older adults. This program provided the opportunity for everyone to share deeply with each other and have genuine, impactful connections.
The Photography and Memory program is offered every year by University of Denver with varying partners, typically in person. The following video tells the story of how this program shifted online during the COVID-19 pandemic in Spring 2020.
“I enjoyed this activity a lot. It allowed me to meet new people and learn about myself and the person I was paired with.” – Student
“Allowing us to come together and share freely is enriching.” – Older Adult
Shalom Park residents, young children (ages 0-5) and their caregivers engaged in a weekly intergenerational music program. Centering music as a means of expression and connection, the program offered instrument playing and drumming, moving and singing, and musical partnering activities. Through these activities, all participants – regardless of age – found meaningful ways to interact. Older adults shared their insights about parenting with mothers and child caregivers, children and older adults played together, and mothers and child caregivers experienced quality time.
Music therapy on its own promotes well-being, and when combined with intergenerational interactions, the positive effect of feeling connected is amplified. Older adults, mothers and child caregivers, and children reported feeling like they engaged in meaningful and sustainable relationships. Throughout the span of the program, interactions increased and connections deepened.
“Wish I could get up and dance with them. Love singing with them. I’d like to read them stories that they can understand. Like to be around the little ones. I really enjoyed it. I almost didn’t get out of bed today but I’m so glad I did.” – Older Adult Resident
“This class/program is enriching and humbling. We enjoy spending time with our grandfriends and learning about music, instruments, and about empathy and kindness. This class is a treasure and means a lot to us. We hope it will continue for many years so we can keep sharing our friendship and learning from others. Thank you to the talented, sweet, and patient instructors!” – Mother/child caregiver
Wish of a Lifetime partnered with Golden High School to bring together Veterans and high school seniors to engage in a semester-long program where participants shared their experiences and stories with each other through various activities including a visit to Wings Over the Rockies Air and Space Museum to learn more about American history.. The program originally culminated in a trip to Washington D.C. so that veterans and students could explore the city, memorials, and museums together, but because of COVID-19, the trip was cancelled and programming shifted to a remote format.
Both Veterans and students reported overall enjoyment of the program and noted how valuable it was to connect with people from different generations and learn about one another. Both groups experienced more positive attitudes about the other group. In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic when connection became more difficult, Veterans and students especially valued interactions between older and younger generations.
“(Veteran’s name) and I have been regularly communicating and it has been great. We email, text, and even send each other letters. I sent him a mask my mom and I made in the mail and he sent me his book. I do hope I can see him again because we have built a really great connection.” – Student
“Until I met my two students I didn’t have a good view on the younger generations. I have a lot more faith in the future after getting to know these two.” – Older Adult