Theories Behind Our Work

At Bridges Together, we talk about the art and science of intergenerational programming. The very essence of our work — whether it’s advocacy, the Bridges Program Curricula Suite or helping leaders build their own custom IG programs — is based on human development theories. In other words, everything we do is rooted in an understanding of how people tick, function and relate to each other!

Here are some of the theories that inspire our work:

We are always growing and changing in at least four areas as defined in human development theory. The four areas include:  physical, intellectual, social and emotional.  Most of us all develop spiritually, meaning we believe in a Higher Power, regardless of whether or not we practice in an organized religion.  Spiritual development is included in this program because many intergenerational experiences occur in families during religious holidays.  Many of the lessons focus on some aspect of human development.


We are all smart – as defined by Dr. Howard  Gardner in his multiple intelligence theory.
Gardner developed the multiple intelligence theory which states that there are eight types of intelligences or “smarts”:  body, logic, music, nature, people, picture, self  and words.  Each of us is stronger in some and weaker in others.  The motto for this theory is:  It’s not how smart we are but HOW we are smart! The Bridges Together activities are based on a variety of the intelligences so that each participant has an opportunity to shine.  Many of the adult volunteers find this theory fascinating. The theory provides a framework for examining our lives and supporting the children in our lives.

Throughout our lives, we have experiences that cause our egos to either prosper or stagnate as defined by Dr. Erikson in his Social-Emotional Development Theory.

During each phase of life, our egos either thrive or stagnate based on the interactions of the body, mind and culture.

  • School age children between the ages of 6 and 12, either become industrious or develop an inferiority complex.
  • During adolescence, they either successfully develop their identities or have role confusion.
  • In middle adulthood, between the ages of 35 and 65, people either create and share with others or become self-absorbed and stagnate.
  • During late adulthood, after the age of 65, adults who are able to reflect on their lives and make sense of them develop integrity and wisdom.  Those who are not able to do this develop despair.

Bridges Together programs help facilitate the development of people’s “egos.”


We all grow and interact in the context of five environmental systems. Dr. Urie Bronfenbrenner’s Ecological Systems Theory (or human ecology theory) provides the framework for understanding individuals’ contexts within community. The five systems — microsystem, mesosystem, exosystem, macrosystem and chronosystem — start with the immediate community, such as family, and continue to extend outward to the attitudes and ideologies of a greater culture. It’s important to understand the individual and cultural contexts of others!







If You're an Educator...

If You Work with Older Adults...

Bring Bridges to Your Center!

Use the Bridges or a custom program for your senior center. You can also join our membership, attend an event and more!

If You're a Grandparent or Parent.....

Bring Bridges To Your Home!

Integrate IG activities into your household using our printable Springboards. Join our membership to get monthly activities!