The Research is In! Bridges Good for Youth AND Older Adults

One student’s picture of an “old person” before and then after participating in the Bridges program. Notice how the student changes his focus from the older adult’s cane in the “before” picture to how the “older adults were nice to us” in the “after” picture!

At Bridges Together, we always say that good intergenerational programs are a vaccination against ageism and a prescription for longevity. (We have an entire Research page dedicated to showcasing the studies that demonstrate this!)

That being said, we are pleased to share some research findings about the Bridges Program Curricula conducted by Ernest Gonzales, PhD and his team at the Boston University School of Social Work. The researchers spent time communities implementing Bridges: Growing Together.

Here’s a summary of the exciting findings:

As you may have seen before, one way we evaluate children’s changed attitudes about older adults is pictures they draw of an “old person” before Bridges and then after Bridges.

Approximately 77% of children in Bridges added a positive illustration and/or description of an older adult after the program. After Bridges, the children expressed greater emphasis on older adults’ social, personality and mental health characteristics and less on their physical characteristics after the program.

But it’s not just the kids who benefit! Older adult volunteers reported positive social-emotional benefits to participating in Bridges: Growing Together. were asked to rate the following statements on a scale of 1-5 (1 being “strongly disagree” and 5 being “strongly agree”). The average response follows the statement.

  • When I think about Bridges, it has improved my life: 4.29
  • Participating in Bridges was cognitively stimulating: 4.47
  • I have enlarged my circle of friends through Bridges: 4.41
  • Volunteering with Bridges made me feel useful: 4.29
  • I am meeting a need in the community through volunteering: 4.25
  • Bridges was the highlight of my week: 4.12
  • I plan to volunteer again with Bridges or in schools: 4.18

Do you want to see this kind of positive and meaningful program in your community? You can! Thanks to the Tufts Health Plan Foundation, Bridges Together has funding available to train community leaders on one of our four intergenerational programs. Contact Julie Shaw today via email or at 978.793.9509 for more information.

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