Master of Fine Arts
Two main groups in American society today are floundering: adolescent children of low income families and the elderly.
Between the hours of 3:00 and 6:00 p.m., one in five children are unsupervised. Left to their own devices, many become involved in negative behaviors such as drug and alcohol abuse, sexual activity or in the worse cases, delinquency (Afterschool Alliance, 2016). It is proven that when children are alone after school, they not only miss out on valuable learning opportunities, but also their parents are affected as well by having to lose as many as eight work days annually to resolve behavioral issues. In this negative cycle, businesses experience losses of up to $300 billion a year (Afterschool Alliance, 2018).
The other demographic group that is struggling is the elderly. Due to advanced medical care and better education, people are living longer (Singh, A., & Misra, N. 2009). After they retire from the work force, many find themselves with an unstructured routine. Friendships often fade. Connection with family may become less frequent, and it is difficult to form new relationships. These changes in their lives often result in feelings of isolation, loneliness, depression and even death (Singh, A., & Misra, N. (2009).
A solution to these two problems is creating an intergenerational program. Intergenerational programs bring different age groups together to participate in activities and cultural exchanges. Bringing adolescents and the elderly together enriches the quality of life for each. The elderly can bond with youths through tutoring, mentoring, and sharing their life experiences, while gaining social interaction they would otherwise lack. The children can receive individual attention academically and emotionally, broaden their social skills, and benefit from their elders’ life knowledge and experience (Bethesda Health, 2014).
For every dollar spent, three dollars are saved by increasing kids’ learning potential, improving kids’ performance at school and reducing crime and juvenile delinquency (Afterschool Alliance, 2017). However, under the current administration, funding is going to be cut nationwide by 100% in the 2019 fiscal year. (Afterschool Alliance, 2018). Therefore, it is essential to design a space that is conducive to relationship building, low maintenance and sustainable to reduce overhead and maximize funds for the participants.
Methods of research will include peer reviewed literature and case studies. For example, I will study a program founded in Columbia, MD that helps disadvantaged children with at least one incarcerated parent achieve their dreams. I will also study local and regional afterschool programs. I also intend to create a survey for both adolescents and elderly to collect data on attitudes and expectations of intergenerational programming.
Intergenerational programs are beneficial to everyone in a community. By participating in such programs, both populations can help each other by understanding and accepting each other’s similarities and differences and learning from one another (Bethesda Health, 2015). They create a safer and more productive society and encourages upward mobility in economically depressed neighborhoods. For a relatively low investment, the return is tremendous. The major challenge of intergenerational programs is funding.
The research methods described above will support the design of an intergenerational clubhouse for the immediate community. The space will provide academic, social and values enrichment through supportive mentoring and the use of technology. And equally important, a safe place, security, comfort, trust, respect, and pride.
© The Author
Is Part Of
VCU University Archives
Is Part Of
VCU Theses and Dissertations
Date of Submission