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What is an Intergenerational Program

Intergenerational Programs have been occurring in different formats and settings for 40 years or more. The United States was the first country to introduce formal Intergenerational Programs, followed by the United Kingdom, and some European and Asian countries. Whilst there are a number of Intergenerational Programs currently operating in Australia, we are very much at the beginning of our Intergenerational journey.

What is an Intergenerational Program?
An intergenerational Program is a planned intentional interaction of different age groups, infant to elderly, in a variety of situations at a level that provides close communication, sharing of feelings and ideas and co-operative activity in meaningful tasks.
Peacock and Talley, Intergenerational Contact: A way to Counteract Ageism 1984

Why have Intergenerational Programs come about?
Intergenerational programs have emerged as one response to the age segregation that is increasingly occurring in our society. With fewer people living close to or with relatives, financial pressures demanding that both parents work, more children being cared for in child care settings and elderly relatives moving into care facilities, the opportunities for the young and the old to have meaningful contact has decreased significantly. Intergenerational programs encourage interactions amongst different age groups.

What settings do Intergenerational Programs occur in?
Intergenerational Programs can occur in a wide variety of settings. These include child care settings, schools, aged care facilities, community based settings such as a senior citizens’ group and in some countries in the aged person’s own home with a visiting service.

What is an intergenerational activity?
The scope of intergenerational programs is very broad, incorporating all age ranges of the young (generally under 20 years), from babies and pre-schoolers in playgroups or child care settings, through to school aged children and teenagers. The elderly involved are usually over the age of 60. The types of activities that the participants are involved in will depend on the ages of both the young and the elderly involved. Obviously, different age groups will have differing levels of skills and abilities, for both the young and the elderly.

What roles do the generations play?
Because of the nature of many Intergenerational Program activities requiring an outcome, there are three ways in which people interact. Firstly, the elderly assisting or serving the young, for example, helping with reading. Secondly, the young assisting or serving the elderly, for example, helping record personal histories; and thirdly, mutually beneficial interactions, in which the two generations are interacting to achieve a mutual goal or without the need to produce something, for example, sessions with babies.