Goodwin College Selected for Additional Year of Intergenerational Connections Project

Goodwin College is one of a select group of 15 institutions across the nation chosen by the Council of Independent Colleges (CIC) to receive renewed grant support in the amount of $11,102 toward continuing costs of its Intergenerational Connections: Students Serving Older Adults program. The grant will be used during 2018-2019 to sustain digital or visual life story activities that enhance connections between undergraduate students and older adults in the community.

Begun by CIC in 2017 with the AARP Foundation’s generous support, this initiative helps colleges to create or extend programs in which students help low-income older adults address their key needs.

CIC President Richard Ekman said, “These projects have for the past year made significant progress toward a national network of programs on independent college and university campuses that promote intergenerational interaction between students and older community members.”

In total, 38 colleges and universities are now part of a network of colleges and universities that have begun to establish best practices for engaging students in ensuring that older adults in the communities surrounding college campuses have nutritious food, affordable housing, a steady income, and strong and sustaining social bonds. Joining the network this coming year also will be 22 institutions that have received grants for the first time.

Goodwin College’s Human Services (HSR) and Occupational Therapy Assistant (OTA) students are successfully implementing Intergenerational Connections: Students Serving Older Adults: Reducing Social Isolation Through Story Telling. The program, which began in August 2017, reduces the social isolation of nursing home residents at a health and rehabilitation center. With a renewal grant, Goodwin will extend this project for a second year, pairing 15 students and 50 residents to create digital and/or visual stories and increase social interaction for isolated seniors. Residents are engaged in creating their stories with students and receive their unique digital and/or visual stories to share with others.

An OTA student noted the benefits of the interaction, saying, “The interviews that I conducted gave my resident the opportunity to socialize with someone outside of the nursing home and helped him recall life events of importance that he had not thought about in years.”

“The digital and visual stories were both successful and popular among the residents and staff. Preliminary findings indicate the program will reduce social isolation in the Center’s participants, and we are pleased to facilitate this interaction,” said Dr. Sherrilyn Bernier, Associate Professor, Human Services and Goodwin’s grant project manager.