How Intergenerational Programs Benefit Everyone – Los Angeles Sentinel | Los Angeles Sentinel

Using aadults at the age of 50+ in L.OS Angeles: One of our few increasing natural resources

The adult population over the age of 50 is growing rapidly. While some suggest that this growing elderly population will be a burden to society, others note that they are one of our nation’s “most important increasing natural resources,” with untapped energy and a variety of talents and wisdom that to contribute.

Many adults over the age of 50 not only have the health and functional ability to continue to contribute to society, but also express a desire to do so. Growing evidence also shows that important health benefits accrue from such continued active participation in significant activities.
The Los Angeles Generation Xchange (GenX) program is an intergenerational partnership, an academic community between the Department of Geriatrics at David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and the United School District of Los Angeles (LAUSD).

The GenX program is active in six primary schools in LAUSD; 54you59you74you, elementary schools in La Sal, Baldwin Hills and Windsor Hills. GenX trains and accommodates older volunteers in K-3rd grade classrooms, where they work with students to improve academic skills (reading and math) and to deal with behavioral problems (eg inability to focus during in class sessions, behavior that disrupts class activities).

Participating in GenX as a trained volunteer in the classroom offers adults the opportunity to play a meaningful and important role in helping younger generations, while benefiting from the social, psychological, cognitive and physical engagements associated with their role in GenX. .

We recruit GenX participants from the communities around our schools. Schools are those that chronically lack resources and do not perform, and the surrounding communities are characterized by disproportionately high risks to adult health.

The GenX program offers potentially important health promotion for these adults, but GenX’s ability to appeal to adult altruism and the sense of purpose and achievement they communicate from working with children keeps them committed to the program over time.

In this way, program volunteers receive a more sustainable “dose” of health promotion than is often the case with alternative health promotion efforts. These efforts address people’s interests by allowing them to help others, not just help themselves.

The GenX program seeks to improve academic and behavioral outcomes for children by pairing GenX adults with children in grades K through 3 who may need a little more attention and support to succeed in school. The aim is to provide additional resources in the form of GenX team members who can work with students to increase their performance in reading and math standards and ultimately reduce current inequalities in academic achievement between students, attending schools with lower skill rates and schools with higher levels of proficiency.
To date, the members of the GenX team have been extremely positive about their experience and almost all participants have continued after joining the program. Preliminary data show health benefits such as lowering blood pressure and weight loss, as well as evidence of greater physical endurance (ie increased ability to climb stairs, faster walking speeds).

Social and psychological benefits include 100% of participants who report developing new friendships and reducing reported loneliness. School principals and teachers also report that children have benefited both academically and behaviorally (better reading, fewer office recommendations) as a result of GenX’s presence in classrooms.

Even in the face of the COVID pandemic, GenX participants have been able to continue their commitment to schools and children. The program managed to provide laptops for all GenX participants and train them to use Zoom so that they can join their classrooms remotely during the pandemic and continue their important training and mentoring for children.

Data collected during this time also show the benefits of engaging with GenX, with adults reporting less loneliness and more positive views of their social engagement after being able to re-engage with children (and others in their social worlds). ) through Zoom, while maintaining the recommended social distancing to minimize the risks of COVID infection.

The GenX program will resume work in primary schools in South Los Angeles in the fall of 2022 with new openings in 4you and 5you classrooms (addition to our existing presence in classes K-3rd), as well as openings in all classes in the new, 7you school.

Overall, this intergenerational program seems to meet its original goal of creating a “profitable” situation in which both children and adults participating in the program enjoy the benefits of interacting with each other.

For more information or to become part of the GenX volunteer team, contact D’Ann Morris at [email protected] or call (310) 825-8253.

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