In a new study at The Ohio State University, researchers from the School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences are learning how an intergenerational (IG) program can change children’s perceptions of older adults as well as older adults’ health and sense of community. In a unique twist, the scientists will even assess the students’ drawings depicting older adults doing activities (“older adults doing something”) before and after the IG program. 

Health Sciences professors Jessica Krok-Schoen and Jill Clutter, will conduct the research with Lauren Feyh, the activities director at Worthington Christian Village, a not-for-profit retirement community.

Participants include children ranging from pre-kindergarten to 4th grade, Ohio State student volunteers, and assisted living and nursing home residents of Worthington Christian Village (WCV). The children will visit WCV each week to take part in evidence-based activities that include: physical activities/games, music, crafts, and food. Previous activities included a life-size Candyland game, dance party, and making slime.

Initial findings from this study were positive with both the children and the residents repeatedly expressing excitement about the IG program and regularly interacting during the IG program. The researchers predict that they will see improvements in the children’s perceptions of older adults’ abilities and role in society as well as the residents’ well-being and sense of community.

“This intergenerational program began last year with our Health Sciences students, enrolled in a service-learning course. They were tasked with researching and creating an IG program under the supervision of the WCV’s amazing activities staff.” Dr. Krok-Schoen explained. “We want to improve the children’s perception of aging and older adults as well as enhance the health of older adults. So far, it’s been such a positive experience for everyone!” she explained. “This is a labor of love for us. When you can bring together university faculty & students with community partners like WCV and Kids Academy, everybody wins!” added Dr. Clutter.

View video coverage from Spectrum News 1.