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Center for Intergenerational Policy and Practice
Benefits of Intergenerational Programs for Children and Youth
- A 1995 study found that mentored youth were less likely to engage in violence and drug use, are more likely to attend school and improve academically, and have healthier social relationships (Tierney, Grossman, & Resch), Making a Difference: An Impact Study of Big Brothers/Big Sisters. Public/Private Ventures.
- The National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (2000), the largest survey of adolescence ever completed in America reports the connection to a caring adult other than a parent was found to be one of the highest rated protective factors for youth.
- Manheimer reports that intergenerational projects generate increased tolerance, comfort, and intimacy between generations and dispel negative stereotypes of aging and old age. Generations Learning Together, in Intergenerational Approaches in Aging: Implications for Education, Policy and Practice, Hawthorne Press, 1997, pp. 79-91.
- Larkin, Newman, and Manheimer (1997) report that intergenerational programs build common bonds between generations by facilitating the discovery of shared life themes, challenges, and problems. Intergenerational Studies: A Multidisciplinary Field, Journal of Gerontological Social Work.
- American youth who completed an intergenerational course on aging with a community-based service component had more positive perceptions of older adults and more knowledge of aging than did students in a comparison group (Knapp & Stubblefield, 2000) in Changing Students Perceptions of Aging: The Impact of an Intergenerational Service Learning Course in Educational Gerontology 26, pp. 611-621.
- Canadian school children demonstrated enhanced literacy development following an intergenerational mentoring program (Ellis, Small-McGinley & Hart, 1998). Alberta Journal of Educational Research, 44(2), 149-162.
- An evaluation of Family Friends, conducted by the Institute for Human Development at the University of Missouri (Rinck, 1993), revealed statistically significant positive changes with regard to increases in the child's social growth and self-esteem; reduction in family stress, loneliness, and isolation; the parents increase in free time; decrease in parental concern about the child's education, training, and behavior; and improved family relationships.
- Research funded by the Center for Substance Abuse Prevention of the U. S. Department of Health and Human Services (1996) found that children who participated in Across Ages, an intergenerational mentoring program, had more positive changes in knowledge and reactions to drug use; significant decrease in alcohol and tobacco use and attitudes, and behavior concerning substance abuse and related life skills; decreased school suspensions; better school grades and attendance than students who were not in the full Across Ages program. The study also found that there was significant improvement in attitudes toward school and the future; significant improvement in attitudes towards adults in general and older adults in particular; and improvement in personal well-being. Understanding Substance Abuse Prevention Toward the 21st Century: A Primer on Effective Programs, Center for Substance Abuse Prevention, unpublished document.
- Several studies indicate that involvement of youth in positive social relationships and meaningful activities is associated with a reduction in risky behavior and an increase in resiliency (Camino, 2000). Youth-Adult Partnerships: Entering New Territory in Community Work and Research, Developmental Science, 4, 11-20.
- Additional research by Harvard Universitys Center for Society and Health points to the importance of social connectedness. Researchers indicate that social isolation is a chronically stressful condition that has a direct biological effect on the body (Berkman, 1995). Creating strong networks , promoting partnerships between youth and adults, and developing social institutions that support the creation of fulfilling experiences at each stage of life can improve the social health of individuals and communities. Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Quarterly Newsletter, Issue 3, 2000.
- Research data (2002) conducted by the Center for Intergenerational Learnings Abuelas y Jovenes, a drug prevention and in-home support program in which older women serve as mentors to Latina pregnant and parenting teens, shows positive results in the areas of less pregnancies; better school performance; better school attendance; higher rates of high school graduation; more employment; and finding satisfactory housing. Face-to-face interview with Dr. Andrea Taylor, October 2002.