'Bridging the Gap'
inter-generational program to be featured on CTV
An intergenerational story-telling and memoir-writing program that
pairs up seniors and high school students is to be featured on a
CTV news program in the London area.
The program, entitled “Bridging the Gap,”
will be the focus of CTV’s health news, running between 6:30
– 6:45 pm this Tuesday, and again on Wednesday at 12 noon.
Interested viewers in the Guelph/Kitchener/
London/Collingwood region can watch the regular CTV program. Viewers
in other areas should check with CTV affiliate stations. (see: http://www.ctv.ca/local)
Nora Savage, who has been running the program
for more than six years out of Acton, Ontario, says that the show
will highlight the benefits of intergenerational contact.
“It will look at the benefits for seniors
and for students,” she says.
She expects the news program, produced by Leslie
Gordon, to run anywhere from one-to-five minutes.
Savage, who runs “Story Lines,” a
company that offers generalized memoir writing, storytelling and
other writing services for seniors, has taught the “Bridging
the Gap” program to more than 20 organizations in the past
The program, which is largely conducted with seniors
who have some form of dementia, is aimed at “foster[ing] cooperation,
understanding and friendship between the generations through adult-centred
activities. The programs affect youth's attitudes and understanding
towards dementia and aging and promotes feelings of self-worth for
seniors.” (see www.story-lines.ca)
Participating students meet over an eight-week
period with a senior, and through a series of interviews and interactions
generate enough material to constitute a memoir-like document.
In an earlier interview with the Morning Report,
Savage says that she has received mostly positive comments about
the program, which she has most recently extended to include seniors
without dementia and students in junior high school.
A significant number of students, she told us,
termed it “the best experience during their time in high school.”
Savage also explained that for some of the seniors
the program caused a revolution in their thinking about aging. The
program, she added, is particularly beneficial for those seniors
who lack family support.
“It really breaks down stereotypes that
younger people have about seniors, and the effect is often dramatic,
too – they realize they are people too,” she said.
Savage has most recently developed a “train
the trainer” program so that long term care homes and senior’s
organizations can teach staff to run the program.
“It’s designed so that anyone can
do it,” she says.
She has also piloted the junior intergenerational
program at the Orangeville Senior’s Centre, pairing up grade
6-8 students with seniors who are cognitively well.