Intergenerational Shared Sites Programs

— Generations United
Updated on Nov 12, 2009


Young and old thrive when resources are used to bring the generations together rather than separate them. The power of connecting the generations is realized every day at intergenerational shared sites throughout the country. Intergenerational
shared sites are defined as programs in which children, youth and older adults participate in ongoing services and/or programming concurrently at the same site, and where participants interact during regularly scheduled planned intergenerational activities, as well as through informal encounters.1 They allow for multiplying the use of resources by sharing those readily available. In addition to satisfying the needs of children, youth and older adults, appropriate design and facilitation breaks down barriers that have the potential to inhibit interaction between younger and older people.

Benefits of Intergenerational Shared Sites

  • Enhances quality of life for all participants
  • Improves attitudes about different age groups
  • Provides needed services to the community
  • Increases cost savings and creates opportunities to share resources
  • Attracts additional funding sources and acts as a positive public relations/marketing tool
  • Enhances employee benefits for programs with on-site childcare

Why Shared Sites?

Young and old people walk the same streets together but find themselves on opposite sides. Primarily in the last 50 years,
changes in Western cultures have led to an increased generational disconnect.2 Technological innovation, a continually changing economy, increased work hours, and the weakened role of a family’s elders all further an already age-stratified
society.3 Children often spend their days in school and/or childcare centers, while many elders live and socialize in age-isolated facilities. America’s cultural landscape is molding a relatively new sort of segregation; now, not only by race and class, but by age as well.4 Intergenerational shared sites serve and provide care to children, youth and older adults,
increase the potential for resource sharing, but also act as a mechanism to address some of the social implications of an increasingly age-segregated society.

Intergenerational Shared Site Components

Intergenerational shared sites vary in structure, but are generally composed of two program components; one that serves older
adults and another that serves children or youth. In addition, many facilities make use of designated “shared spaces” that
concurrently accommodate both generations, and create additional opportunities for spontaneous intergenerational interaction.
5 The chart below lists common program components:6

Older Adult Components

Child/Youth Components

  • Adult Day Services Center
  • Childcare Center
  • Assisted Living/Residential Care
  • Before/After School Program
  • Continuing Care Retirement Community
  • Head Start Program
  • Nursing Home
  • Early Childhood Program
  • Senior Center
  • School (K-12, College/University, Vocational/Technical)
  • Senior Housing Facility
  • Youth Recreation Program
  • Community Recreation Program
  • Camps
  • Geriatric Care Unit
  • Pediatric Care Unit
  • Alzheimer's Care Unit

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