Trainings: Best Intergenerational Practices

Training for Barnstable’s Community-Wide Intergenerational Leadership Team

Many communities want to increase the number and nature of intergenerational initiatives. This service offers communities a step-by-step process, as well as professional support, for creating a team that will do just that!

The following is included in this opportunity:

  • A full-day workshop on the nuts and bolts of intergenerational programming, resulting in a community-wide intergenerational leadership team (which must include a senior center representative) and the team’s identification of one new intergenerational opportunity it will implement
  • Subsequent regular meetings with Bridges Together intergenerational experts to plan and organize this new initiative
  • Help with publicizing your event/initiative

In 2016-17, this program’s pilot year, four communities participated. Click the links below to learn more about each community’s successes.

For more information, contact us via email or at 978.793.9650.


Before: Members of the Ashland Community Intergenerational Leadership Team and After: An Oral CoHistory Project

Andrea Fonte Weaver and Betsy Emberley, President of the Friends of the Ashland Public Library, met the first day of the MetroWest Leadership Academy. Andrea shared about the grant opportunity for a Community Intergenerational Leadership Team training on a Friday afternoon. By Tuesday of the following week, Betsy had enlisted Kim Kotob of the Ashland Elder Services and submitted letters of support for the grant. They convened a Leadership Team that included members of:

At the day-long training, the group decided to divide into two teams to initiate multiple programs.

Ashland’s pollinator garden project in action!

One team, led by the recreation director and garden club members, planned for a six-session Pollinator Garden for preschoolers and older gardeners. Using the Recipe for Intergenerational Success, themes for the sessions were chosen with appropriate activities. In conjunction, to try and attract new “adult” members to the garden club, a guest lecture was held at the senior center. What resulted was blossoming raised-garden beds outside the community center – and wonderful relationships between some of Ashland’s oldest and youngest gardeners. A final Garden Party was held with the gardeners, their family members and distinguished guests including the town manager. They plan to continue the program this year.

The second team decided to develop an oral history project to record some of Ashland’s stories. Students from several high school activity clubs, including “Breaking the Barriers,” recorded interviews with older residents. The excitement on the day the interviews took place was electrifying – so many participants realized the commonalities we share as people, regardless of age.

Out of this collaboration came a town-wide World Café in May where pairs of adults and youth facilitated small group discussions about unity and inclusion leading to a series of additional events utilizing the same format and paired table hosts this fall to provide the opportunity to have conversations regarding other important community topics.

“Courageous Conversations” session in Ashland

The Team is continuing to meet to plan more opportunities for intergenerational engagement. Possibilities include holding a second round of interviews with older residents; they are continuing to hold Courageous Conversations on difficult topics such as love, inclusion, and trust. They are also looking into starting a cooking program, putting on a IG concert and as well as implementing a discussion group called “Great Discussions: America’s largest discussion program on world affairs, the list of ideas is long.

Kudos to Ashland for breaking down the barriers between people of different ages and planting seeds of compassion and joy!



Before: A day-long training about how to create effective intergenerational initiatives as a team. After: A successful Boston Post Cane Tea Party and Award Ceremony, just one of Barnstable’s IG projects

When we talk about a culture of intergenerational engagement, Barnstable is living it! Examples include:

  • An Intergenerational Memorial Day breakfast where high school students participated in a living history lesson with World War II, Korean War and Vietnam War veterans;
  • Each week throughout the school year, high school students volunteer at the Senior Center to provide technology assistance to older adults;
  • On Flag Day, elementary school students visited the Senior Center for a patriotic musical performance;
  • Students from the local charter school participated in an “Alive Inside” project with our Adult Day Program and created customized playlists for the clients based on their favorite genre of music;
  • A boat-building class between older shipwrights and at-risk high school students;
  • A multigenerational bake-off where one round is a family recipe;
  • The High School Class of 2020 adopting the Senior Center as a service partner for four years – last year’s activities included the students volunteering to wrap holiday gifts and a mannequin challenge;
  • A Youth Commission and Council on Aging that regularly collaborate.

Madeline Noonan, Senior Services Director, had attended a few of Bridges Together’s trainings. Among other things, she was impressed with how the human development theories could be used to guide her interactions with seniors and her programming. She wanted to help build on the wonderful efforts of many facets of her community.

Madeline convened a Leadership Team with members representing:

  • The faculty and students from the high school
  • The Youth Commission
  • Council on Aging
  • Recreation Department
  • Senior Services Division

Barnstable’s Community IG Leadership Team even included high school students!

The day-long training and follow-up coaching was helpful for this active community because it instilled in all participants the importance of intergenerational programming to the overall health and vitality of our community and fostered a spirit of collaboration and ongoing commitment to the future development of programs that bring together the younger and older generations to build mutual respect and friendship.

The Team began planning for several programs which may come to fruition in time including a gardening project and one book, one community program. In the spring, they did hold a Tea for residents over the age of 90 and their guests. High schoolers prepared questions for each table, greeted the guests, facilitated & co-hosted the tables and provided musical entertainment. There was a ceremony awarding the Boston Post Cane to the oldest resident. Local cablevision created this show about the event and Madeline created a presentation about the Community Intergenerational Leadership Team program.

Congratulations to Barnstable – an intergenerationally-minded community! (Click here to view Barnstable’s final presentation.)

South Hadley

Before: Members of the South Hadley Community Intergenerational Leadership Team and After: A Veterans’ Recognition Breakfast

When Leslie Hennessey began her position as South Hadley’s new senior center director, she was eager to help forge intergenerational relationships in her community. Thanks to Bridges Together, she convened a Community Intergenerational Leadership Team comprised of the following individuals:

After learning about the scope of intergenerational engagement during Bridges Together’s Step by Step workshop, the team decided to focus efforts on veterans and high school students.

The first program was a breakfast for veterans and their guests. High school students prepared the food, greeted the honorees and provided musical entertainment. Members of the Leadership Team led a short program/ service which included a ceremony where they and students pinned the veterans. They hoped that about 20 veterans would come. Dream big! About 100 attended! Highlights included students talking with veterans and seeing the scrapbook of a World War II Veteran, as well as a tribute to graduating high school seniors who were enlisting. Powerful stuff!

A poignant moment during the Veterans’ Recognition Breakfast

Read a newspaper article here and check out their summary of this process.

Learning the nuts and bolts of effective intergenerational programs, the team expanded their efforts to include:

  • Older people going into history classes to share first hand accounts
  • Students going to the senior center to do technology tutoring
  • A “Stuff the Bus” event where older community members filled a bus with school supplies for low-income students
  • The Bridges program in the 4th grade
  • Inviting Andrea Fonte Weaver to be a guest speaker at the American International College

We talk about the importance of convening a leadership team committed to intergenerational engagement – which begins with one program and expands to create a culture of age-integration. South Hadley is doing an exemplary job (click here to see the teams final presentation)! Go South Hadley!


West Boylston

Early in her position as senior center director, Lisa Clark-Viklund attended a morning workshop by Andrea Fonte Weaver on intergenerational engagement. She was hooked! But her efforts to engage others often led to frustration. When the Community Intergenerational Leadership Team grants were announced, Lisa decided to apply. She convened a team with members representing:

They had heard about a program in a nearby town that piqued their interest: an initiative where older adults served as greeters in the high school, helping to connect with students who were feeling isolated. How could West Boylston build upon this idea?

During the full-day training – one component of the Community IG Leadership Team grant – community members learned about the best practices of intergenerational engagement including volunteer management. This training provided the backbone on which the team could build out their program. The outcome? A hugely successful greeting program! West Boylston Public Access Television highlighted the program..

Click here to view the West Boylston Community Intergenerational Leadership PowerPoint summary of their project.

This year the team plans to continue the greeter program and hopes to expand on intergenerational connections.

Congratulations to West Boylston on enlisting older people to make the community more friendly for people of all ages!


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