Generations United’s Executive Director Donna Butts started with a story.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, “we all found comfort in different ways,” she told a virtual audience. “For me, one was a big warm hug of a book that some of you probably read called The Boy, The mole, The Fox and the Horse by Charlie Mackesy.”
“At one point,” she continued, “the boy asked the horse, ‘What is the bravest thing you’ve ever said?’ And the horse said, “Help.”
Donna’s remarks came during the Janet Sanier Opening Plenary Session that kicked off the Generations United Virtual Conference. This plenary honors Janet Sainer — an intergenerational pioneer who believed the power of making connections — and encouraged each of us to network, take risks, and always keep our eyes on the good we can do next.
Like Charlie Mackesy’s story, the session explored life’s universal lessons.
This session highlighted personal experiences from a young person and caregiver from grandfamilies, key considerations and guidance from mental health professionals about anxiety, depression grief, and loss, and creative intergenerational solutions for addressing social isolation.
The calls for people to social distance left both youth and older adults feeling isolated.
AmeriCorpsSr’s Atalaya Sergi discussed how her organization had to pivot because of the pandemic.
Leading up to the opening plenary, Donna thanked our sponsors.
She also highlighted our new intergenerational resources, supported by RRF Foundation for Aging.
After the opening plenary, we went into the first set of workshop block that included six concurrent sessions.
Our Senior Fellow Dr. Nancy Henkin led a workshop with Dr. Mariano Sanchez and Jeni Hoover on international shared sites.
Another workshop was Stories from Atlantic City.
The workshop — Publicly Funded! Peer Led! Peer Suppor! Supporting and Engaging Kinship Families — highlighted the King County Kinship Collaboration in Seattle, Washington.
In the workshop, Generations Connect: Appreciating Perspectives and Bridging Intergenerational Divides to Make Meaningful Impact, focused on different generations learning from each other and working together to create change in their communities.
After a lunch break, we went into speed sessions (5 concurrent rooms, 3 back-to-back in each room).
After the speed sessions, we went into second workshop block thatr included six concurrent sessions.
Among those sessions was a workshop by the Limelight LLC’s team on HomeBound — which connects Michigan’s youth and older adults in a podcast dialogue for the ages.
The workshop — Ageless Play: Interaction Strategies are Key to Intergenerational Program Sustainability — looked at intergenerational playgroups as a way of providing multiple opportunities for building relationships between elders, children and their families and the workforce in residential care facilities.
Another workshop was Grandparents as Parents and Caregivers within Indian Country: Keeping with Our Cultural Identity.
The workshop, Learning Across the Generations: A New Model for Higher Education, looked at how universities are positioned to bring together younger and older generations to tackle societal challenges.
We closed with peer groups that included four concurrent sessions. Here are some additional highlights.
Stay tuned tomorrow for a recap of today’s events!