This program helps me get through some of the personal challenges
I am going through. I also get to learn about the past -
and make a friend who does not judge me.
- Grade 9 student volunteer
“Intergenerational programs are social vehicles that create purposeful and ongoing exchange of resources and learning among older and younger generations” International Consortium for Intergenerational Programs
Through our school-based programs, LINKages student volunteers from junior and senior high schools visit with senior mentors at the seniors' residences through the school year. These programs are designed to foster friendship and learning between generations through shared activities, fun and conversation.
As a result of being connected to seniors, youths enhance their leadership, citizenship and interpersonal skills; learn about heritage, history and traditions and experience inclusion and engagement in their community. Many become life-long volunteers. Senior volunteers enjoy the energy and enthusiasm their young friends bring and feel valued through their contribution to a young person's life. Through their involvement with the students, seniors feel more connected to the wider community, gain a sense of purpose, and general improvement in well-being. In the end, both generations will experience a positive paradigm shift of attitudes and beliefs towards each other.
"Some residents have a hard time ever leaving their bed, let alone their room, and the LINKages program has been the one program that can get them out of bed waiting by the main entrance
for their students to come and visit."
- LINKages seniors' care residence liaison
Junior and Senior High Intergenerational Programs (IGPs)
LINKages currently facilitates IGPs at 15 junior & senior high schools and care centers in Calgary. From the application process each September to the wrap-up celebrations each May, our knowledgeable program facilitators are there to implement planned, structured activities that foster meaningful interactions and facilitate the building of friendships.
Participation in a LINKages program begins with attending an Information Session at the school and submitting an application thereafter. A selection process will take place since there are consistently more students who wish to participate in the program than we have space for. Once selected, students will work in pairs and will be matched with a senior. Students must commit to visiting with a senior for the rest of the school year.
LINKages is committed to helping our volunteers succeed. Hence, before any visitation can take place with a senior, all student volunteers must complete the Intergenerational Sensitivity Training. The training will offer insights into a senior's life, their challenges and contributions, myths and perceptions of aging. They will be well prepared to engage at a meaningful level with their senior friend. Training sessions will take place at the school.
Visits with seniors are well planned and structured with activities that lead to positive interaction and the sharing of knowledge, experiences and skills. In the course of the year, students and seniors realise that despite the vast differences in age, they still have very much in common and can become good friends.
- Junior high students are bused to the care centre bi-weekly. Visits take place during school hours supervised and facilitated by LINKages staff and adult volunteers
- Senior high students travel independently to the care centre on a weekly basis. All visits are planned and structured by LINKages staff and regular group activities take place during the year.
- Intergenerational After School Programs take place at both junior and senior high schools during after school hours. These are part of the Calgary After School initiative funded by Family and Community Social Services (FCSS Calgary) to foster positive child and youth development initiatives