Bridging the gap between generations can provide countless learning opportunities and chances for personal growth for individuals both young and old. For more than 15 years, Ithaca’s Gerontology Institute has strived to do just that through a partnership with the Longview senior living community.
Mary Claire Hartford '15 learns to use a sewing machine at a meeting of the Longview Quilting Club. (Photo by Adam Baker/Ithaca College)
Recently, the work of 300 students and two dozen faculty members was highlighted in Generations United’s report titled: “I Need You, You Need Me: The Young, The Old, and What We Can Achieve Together.” Generations United’s goal is to “improve the lives of children, youth, and older adults through intergenerational collaboration, public policies and programs,” and their most recent report, from May, praised the connection between Ithaca and Longview.
Ithaca sends students from numerous programs to Longview, all of whom connect with residents in unique ways. Music students will put on performances; journalism students will write down the seniors’ life stories; and physical, occupational, recreational and speech therapists will assess ailments. Additionally, community members will visit South Hill to use the pool and library, or attend plays and performances.
The report also illustrates the close relationships that form between individual students and residents. For example, Emily Laino, ’17, was taught how to crochet by resident Lucile Tompkins, and the pair then made hats for babies who were born prematurely.
Other Longview residents spoke to the joy and energy the students bring to Longview daily. “Have you ever gone into nursing homes and you see people sitting around in wheelchairs with their heads on their chests?” said Bob McCune, 87, “And it’s just so depressing? Well, with those kids around here, it’s not depressing, it’s very lively.”