Waverley Arts, Belmont, MA
I discovered Bridges Together a few years ago when I attended an information session at a Council on Aging Center.
I have been teaching art classes to children and adults for many years. I had begun teaching a Mosaic class at the senior center in town and had students from pre-school into their 80s and 90s. Due to the independent nature of the projects everyone worked individually, but the conversation between and support the artists had for each other was wonderful.
Belmont was fortunate to receive a grant to bring the Bridges Program to town. For the past few weeks I have had the absolute honor of being part of a program at the Belmont Cooperative Nursery School that had brought senior volunteers into the school to read with and create an art project related to the book. The volunteers and the children have shared stories about their grandparents and grandchildren, what they liked about the book we read, and what some of their other favorite books are.
I grew up very close to all my grandparents. Those remain some of the most meaningful relationship in my life. My children did not have the opportunity to know their grandparents in the same way and I have often thought what loss that is for them. While intergenerational art programs cannot recreate the grandparent/grandchild experience, they do enrich the lives of everyone involved. I believe they somehow strengthen our connections with our own families, however far away, but also they connect us to the larger community. The seniors will be around town and think of the students when they see other children. The children will not just see “an older person” but the next time, they may see an older person “like my friend who came and read with me.”
Bridges has proven to be an excellent professional resource as well. A bonus I wasn’t expecting! It has connected me with the larger Intergenerational community that I did not even know was out there. It is inspiring to learn about all the other programs and art media that are being offered. It has left me hungry for more and convinced me I need to attend the American Society on Aging’s Leadership Institute this spring.
Nothing I can really write here can convey how wonderful the Bridges classes have been, but I hope I have managed to convey how important and what a gift this program is.