Embracing Generations Partners with Latin School of Chicago

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In 2022, we began a program called Embracing Generations, an intergenerational program that promotes relationship-building and mutual learning among students from local schools and our senior residents. This is facilitated through programming during and after school for students to visit our residents and participate in mutually beneficial activities related to health and wellness, education, creativity and socialization.

This program has taken hold at Latin School of Chicago, where rising seniors Madison Gaines and Charlotte Dann started the first official chapter to provide community service for high school students.

Starting an Embracing Generations Chapter

Madison had the initial idea for this program, and she proposed it to Charlotte because they’re both passionate about community service, specifically serving seniors at risk of loneliness. They took their idea to a potential faculty sponsor who was immediately on board. From there, they participated in their school’s clubs fair where 80 applicants signed up.

A Spirit of Community through Service

“I think we were most surprised by the amount of students in our community who wanted to participate and be a part of our club,” says Madison. “Also how many students were willing to give up their free periods to visit the residents with us because we visit in the middle of the school day, and that’s lunch for a lot of students.”

Students at Latin School of Chicago visit seniors at our North Orchard Place community located near Lincoln Park. They usually have two to three visits a month.

“I think this program has highlighted how much Latin students value community service,” says Charlotte. “Latin has an aim to be a really community service-oriented school, so especially post-COVID, we’ve been able to bring back a sense of community through service, and a great sense of community between generations.”

Fun Activities for Everyone

Students and seniors participate in a variety of activities. The first activity they ever participated in was handing out turkeys and other food around Thanksgiving. They have also facilitated activities such as bingo, art therapy, music therapy and tech assistance.

One particular activity that stands out to Maddie and Charlotte is from last winter, when students sang Christmas carols for residents. One resident was so excited about the caroling that she joined them in singing as they traveled through the rest of the building. It was a high-energy activity that lifted the spirits of residents and students alike.

“We definitely think this program has uplifted the seniors, especially after COVID, being able to have outside people come in and do activities with them,“ says Charlotte. “It’s a great way to put a smile on their faces and connect with outside people. The activities are not only fun for seniors but also for students.”

Expanding the Program

“I think that our community has been very open and excited to engage with our club,” says Maddie. “Every time we’ve gone, we’ve gotten great feedback that students are getting to know the residents better.”

In the future, Maddie and Charlotte are looking to expand the program to facilitate visits every other week, or even every week as the holidays gear up and they can do more activities such as caroling or handing out food. They also would love if seniors could visit them at Latin School of Chicago and see sporting events, plays and other activities.