Washington, DC—Intergenerational shared sites are intentionally designed places that provide services and programs to multiple generations at the same time and foster meaningful cross-age relationships. Participants interact in planned intergenerational activities as well as through informal encounters.
These facilities are highlighted in Sharing Our Space: A Toolkit for Developing and Enhancing Intergenerational Shared Sites, a new resource released by Generations United and The Eisner Foundation. Research showed that while most Americans want a shared site in their communities, few actually had one. Generations United and The Eisner Foundation created this toolkit to empower local leaders to create the spaces that will make their communities stronger for all ages.
Intergenerational shared sites are needed now more than ever.
Over the past year, the world has experienced a deadly pandemic, one that has taken millions of lives, negatively impacted global economies, and elevated longstanding inequities. Restrictions on physical contact, the closure of many public venues, and fears about the rapid spread of Covid-19 have further exacerbated the loneliness epidemic that has been increasingly impacting individuals of all ages.
“The oldest and youngest members of our society are the most likely to have feelings of loneliness and isolation,” said Trent Stamp, CEO of The Eisner Foundation. “But we also know that they have great potential to help each other. Intergenerational shared sites facilitate meaningful connections that not only benefit the individuals involved, but everyone else around them – and every community deserves one.”
Shared sites offer new models of care—ones that intentionally focus on building meaningful relationships, not just providing services—that are needed, particularly for young children and older adults.
“Intergenerational shared sites are more than physical places; they are incredible spaces where young and old come together to learn, play, and grow,” said Donna Butts, executive director of Generations United. “Using an age-integrated rather than age-segregated approach, these incredible spaces are designed to strengthen the web of support that is so integral to families and communities.”
The benefits of shared sites are well-documented for participants of all ages. Research shows that older adults may experience enhanced life satisfaction, increased physical activity and cognitive stimulation, and reduced feelings of loneliness. Children can experience improved self-esteem and self-confidence, increased ability to cooperate and problem-solve, and increased appreciation for diversity. The positive effects of the relationships forged in shared sites go beyond the immediate participants, touching parents, caregivers, site staff, and even the larger community.
Sharing Our Space is designed for individuals and organizations interested in creating an intergenerational shared site or enhancing services at their current site. Divided into 10 sections, the toolkit details every step of the development and operation process, from initial planning to sustaining long-term shared site programs. Each section includes effective practices, challenges, tips, examples, and concrete tools gathered from researchers and practitioners from across the field, organized towards the goal of assisting readers in planning and implementing high-quality shared sites.
Check out the toolkit: http://www.sharingourspace.org
About Generations United: For more than three decades, Generations United’s mission has been to improve the lives of children, youth and older adults through intergenerational collaboration, public policies, and programs for the enduring benefit of all. We have been the catalyst for policies and practices stimulating cooperation and collaboration among generations, evoking the vibrancy, energy and sheer productivity that result when people of all ages come together. We believe that we can only be successful in the face of our complex future if generational diversity is regarded as a national asset and fully leveraged. www.gu.org.
About The Eisner Foundation: The Eisner Foundation identifies, advocates for, and invests in high-quality and innovative programs that unite multiple generations for the enrichment of our communities. The Eisner Foundation was started in 1996 by Michael D. Eisner, then Chairman and CEO of The Walt Disney Company, and his wife, Jane, to focus their family’s philanthropic activities. The Eisner Foundation gives an estimated $7 million per year to nonprofit organizations based in Los Angeles County. In 2015, The Eisner Foundation became the only U.S. funder investing exclusively in intergenerational solutions. www.eisnerfoundation.org.