“There’s a buzz and energy in the community that may not have existed before,” says Susan Curtin, referring to intergenerational programming taking place in her community via the Norwell Council on Aging. Curtin, the Program Coordinator at the Norwell COA, says, “I’ve been working here for 11 years and have been doing intergenerational programming for 10 of those.” (Fun fact: Curtin attended a Bridges Together Ins and Outs of Planning Your IG Program workshop last year, and someone from the preschool came to one of our Coffee Connections networking events!)
A quick look at the Norwell COA’s newsletter points to an organization that is a vital part of the town in serves. And its newest intergenerational program has already proven to be a hit. Recently, the Norwell COA was approached by the Nature Center Preschool at the South Shore Natural Science Center to join forces for a program called Nature Explorers. Six adults and 20 children will meet five times over a four-month period as part of the program.
One stand-out example of how the Nature Explorers program successfully unites older adults and young children is the 93-year-old former tree warden and conservation expert who was a little hesitant about joining the program. After his first session, however, “we all said, ‘please keep him!’” according to Curtin. “He really drew the kids in with a five-minute conversation about different types of pine needles. He then had the kids count pine needles.”
The Norwell Senior Center – as well as the Nature Explorers program – draws a diverse and dynamic group of seniors. Curtin says the average age of the center’s participants is 74 and the center recorded over 5,400 check-ins to different events in 2015.