Welcome to 2024. In a sea of unknowns, one “known” is that our population will continue to age. According to the U.S. census bureau, by 2040 (not that far away) one in five adults in the U.S. will be 65 or older, and with fertility rates declining, the younger generations will continue to shrink in size. With fewer young people living in close contact with their older relatives, there are fewer opportunities for generations to connect with each other, which diminishes compassion and understanding for the struggles of each generation.
One way to build compassion is to start intergenerational exposure early, a mission of Bayview’s Intergenerational Children’s Center (ICC). I’m delighted to introduce our readers to Trudy Roberts, our new ICC Director who shares her own philosophy and mission to serve children and older adults.
Here’s what Trudy has to say:
My name is Trudy Roberts, and it is with great enthusiasm that I write to you today to shed light on a topic that holds immense significance in today’s society: the importance of intergenerational relationships between children and older adults.
With over 25 years of experience in the field of Early Childhood Education, particularly as a Montessori educator, I have had the privilege of witnessing firsthand the remarkable impact that intergenerational interactions can have on the growth and development of individuals. At the core of my educational philosophy lies the belief that learning is a lifelong endeavor, and it is through meaningful connections with individuals of various age groups that this process is enriched and elevated to new heights.
As a Montessori educator, I am deeply committed to the notion of following the child and providing them with the tools and environment necessary for their holistic development. In this pursuit, the role of intergenerational relationships emerges as a key component in shaping the perspectives, attitudes, and values of both children and older adults. It is through these connections that children learn about empathy, respect, and understanding, while older adults find avenues for sharing their wisdom, experiences, and nurturing companionship.
The benefits of fostering intergenerational relationships are far-reaching and profound. For children, interaction with older adults offers them the opportunity to learn from different life experiences, to develop empathy and respect for their elders, and to gain valuable insights that can enrich their personal and social development. On the other hand, older adults find immense fulfillment in sharing their knowledge, stories, and skills with the younger generations, thereby fostering a sense of purpose, belonging and renewed vitality in their lives. These connections bridge the gap between age groups, creating a sense of continuity, mutual support, and meaningful exchange that is vital for the well-being and cohesiveness of our communities. Moreover, intergenerational relationships contribute to combating social isolation, enhancing emotional well-being, and fostering a strong sense of interconnectedness within society. By creating opportunities for children and older adults to come together, engage in reciprocal learning, and form meaningful bonds like those at Bayview, we pave the way for a more compassionate, inclusive, and harmonious society.
Bayview’s ICC is currently enrolling for our infant, toddler, and preschool and pre-k programs. Call 206-281-5786 to schedule a tour.
Nancy Weinbeck is the CEO of Bayview in Queen Anne.