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Milwaukee Catholic Home’s robust and exceptional intergenerational programming has long been unique among senior communities.  In partnership with Nurturing Nook child daycare on our campus and a number of local grade schools, high schools, and universities, Milwaukee Catholic Home seeks to foster understanding and mutual enrichment across the generations.

In partnership with Bader Philanthropies and Messmer Catholic Schools, MCH has launched the Intergenerational Education Program, a new and innovative initiative focused on intergenerational education. The goal of the program, which completed its second year in Fall 2016, is to bring older adults and students together to learn from each other, enriching students’ understanding of aging while allowing older adults to contribute to the educational process with their unique gifts and life experience. The program improves older adult participants’ sense of self-worth and well-being, and causes student participants to develop increased respect and understanding for older adults.

MCH’s recreation therapy team works with the teaching staff of the partnering school to design a custom 6-week program of facilited weekly sessions, designed around the school curriculum for that particular grade level and around each older adult participant’s unique strengths and expertise.  Each student is paired with an older adult partner for the duration of the program.

Each iteration of the program has been the subject of formal academic study, and significant findings have been identified in each round of data testing.  Older adult participants showed an improvement in their scores on the Global Depression Scale, and student participants showed a marked increased in their positive perception of older adults, answering the questions “Are old people happy or sad?” and “Can older people teach you?”

In addition, the Intergenerational Education Program is receiving positive attention in the broader industry, having been featured as part of the Milwaukee Showcase at the 2017 Global Intergenerational Conference.

For more information about the Intergenerational Education Program, contact Tori Smith at tsmith@milwaukeecatholichome.org.