A few months ago, on a recent walk around the Community Housing Works community of Poway Villas, Building Coordinator, Alison Lizarraga, saw something that inspired her to take action. The community was busy with both older adults and youth enjoying their day and having fun, but something was missing. She watched the two groups pass each other along the pathways to the apartments without acknowledging the other and knew that something needed to change.
Lizarraga decided to plan a special Valentine’s Day event, an Intergenerational Tea Party. The goal of the event was to have both generations meet each other in a positive way with the hope of creating a stronger community connection between the two. The event not only allowed the two groups to enjoy special desserts and hot tea together, but it also gave them an opportunity to learn more about each other.
“Intergenerational programs are a great way to help kids and seniors connect and build positive relationships,” said Lizarraga. “Enjoying our golden years is wonderful, but it's really important to keep the oldest and youngest generations connected. I hope that the Intergenerational Valentine's Day Tea helped spread a little love around the Poway Villas community.”
As part of the program, Lizarraga had the Poway Villas youth come prepared with questions to ask the seniors about their lives to help spark conversation while the residents enjoyed their tea together:
Youth Question: What was life like when you were growing up?
Senior Answer: We grew all of our vegetables and we churned our own butter.
Youth Question: What is your favorite childhood memory?
Senior Answer: My favorite childhood memory was when I was a little boy I had a crush on my teacher and I wanted to get her a present. I went to the river and collected all the frogs I could find and I left them on her desk for her.
Through the activity, the younger generation learned to respectfully introduce themselves with confidence and ask meaningful questions.
“We have so many seniors who would make really great role models for young children and young children who are willing to teach older adults new things,” said Lizarraga. “The Intergenerational Valentine's Day Tea was a major success with twenty residents in attendance, learning and growing together.”