Bridges is Changing Children’s Attitudes

Bridges Together has long maintained that intergenerational learning experiences have a positive affect upon the perceptions that young people develop toward senior adults. Bridges Together recently conducted a before and after study with fourth graders who participated in the  Bridges: Growing Older, Growing Together. In this study, fourth graders were asked to both draw a picture and describe a senior citizen just before and after they completed the six-week Bridges program,.

The results are interesting, indeed. In several of the Before Beginning Bridges worksheets, the senior adults were depicted as using either a cane or a wheelchair and as requiring assistance to get about. Accompanying one wheelchair picture were the descriptors “wrinkly, achy, deaf, slow, blind, smelly, weird.” Following the Bridges experience, that same fourth grader drew senior citizens as engaged in active pursuits e.g. bird watching. The descriptors now were “nice, friendly, funny, creative, and smart.”

In another Before Beginning Bridges Work Sheet, while the young person described a senior as “extra nice, wise, funny,” the senior was depicted as using a cane to ambulate. However, the After Bridges Picture drawing shows the senior in the mountains. The accompanying caption seems to tell it all “I feel 20 years younger!”

The conclusion can certainly be made:  this Bridges Together program is changing young peoples’ perceptions of what it means to grow older!  Bridges Together is now engaging a professional researcher to study the efficacy of these programs.

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