In 2015, Lina Arena-DeRosa, Director of the Westwood Council on Aging, met Bridges Together Founder and Executive Director Andrea J. Fonte Weaver. One of Lina’s friends – another COA director – had participated in the Bridges program, and Lina was eager to learn more about the intergenerational work that Bridges Together does. After participating in a BT professional development workshop (at that time called a “Lunch and Learn”), Lina was ready to bring the Bridges program to her community.
When it came to funding, Lina got creative. She applied for and received a local community grant, which allowed her to provide two-year stipends for two teachers to implement Bridges: Our Smarts. (Our Smarts is our program designed to united middle schoolers with older adults. Participants learn about the multiple intelligences [or “smarts”] theory and explore the ways that everyone is uniquely smart and talented via a host of hands-on activities and discussions.)
Here’s why Lina loves the Bridges program: “It’s a program that’s easy to follow. Every detail is already thought through. You just open the book and follow directions. But there’s room for creativity. People who are interested in the Bridges program: You don’t have to create something out of nothing!”