The National Council on Aging defines intergenerational programs as "activities or programs that increase cooperation, interaction, or exchange between any two generations. They involve the sharing of skills, knowledge, or experience between the old and the young."
Intergenerational programs are part of the Therapeutic Recreation Program at NHVH and include interactive experiences between local youth and the residents of the New Hampshire Veterans Home. These programs range from educational and informative discussions such as life decisions after high school and family responsibilities to recreational activities such as volleyball and bowling. The meetings provide a rewarding learning exchange for all as they extend respect for one another, encourage the sharing of ideas, and teach appreciation different perspectives.
Students discover life challenges and joys the residents have experienced over the years, and the residents learn about current trends, interests, and career ideas from the youth. Intergenerational programs make the New Hampshire Veterans Home feel like a real home. The Intergenerational Programs incorporate students from Tilton School, Winnisquam Regional High School and Middle School, Holy Trinity Catholic School, Laconia Middle School, and the Gaebert family's "Stars, Stripes, and Salutes" program. Each student shares their special talents while learning about others, affirming themselves, and realizing similarities in everyone's life experiences–no matter what generation they represent.
Winnisquam Regional Middle School (WRMS)
Each week NHVH Tarr Unit Residents visit the middle school to interact with students in a learning activity. Board games and trivia games which focus on U.S. and world history are a popular activity. The activity topics are educational while incorporating fun and laughter. Later in the week the students visit the residents at the Home for a recreational activity. When the residents team up with the students it brings them back to their own youth.
The Middle School students come every week to our LEDU neighborhoods. The students always arrive with a lot of energy and enthusiasm as they work on various craft projects and team games. They are spontaneous and creative in their work, and they help residents achieve that same expression in their own projects. The students receive ongoing support from staff, learning to be conscious of their own actions and behaviors as well as understanding how to work with residents who have dementia. The longer they are here, the more the students realize how valuable their presence and skills are to the veterans.
Winnisquam Regional High School (WRHS) Agricultural Center
In the early spring, Operation Budding Buddies brings residents and students together to plant vegetable and flower seeds. The seedlings are later transplanted into the residents' raised-bed gardens. The residents enjoy weeding the gardens and picking the fresh carrots, radishes, string beans, and tomatoes]; the experience stimulates memories of a time when families relied on vegetable gardens for sustenance.
Students from the WRHS Agricultural Center also collaborate with residents to create seasonal floral arrangements which are distributed throughout the home. This rich intergenerational experience provides opportunities for residents who were once farmers get a chance to share tips with students who are just beginning their careers.
Students from Tilton School visit every week to participate in educational discussions on topics relevant to young adults preparing for life after high school. Residents provide advice on important life lessons and are equally interested in hearing the students' experiences and plans. Tilton School has a multicultural and international student population and this shows in the participation of this program. Residents and students learn about each other's cultures, and though countries and decades separate their youth, oftentimes participants find they have more in common than they originally thought. Several of our residents are Tilton School alumni from the 1940s and the collaboration brings them joyfully back to their teen years.
Tilton School freshman, sophomore, juniors, and seniors engage in a variety of seasonally theme-centered crafts, adapted sports, and recreational programs which focus on reminiscing. Their compassionate nature and creativity inspire enthusiasm and hope for the future, as they learn from our veterans, who built the foundation for their lives. Sharing interests stimulates memories and common bonds in both groups. Some of the students share their aspirations to be doctors, nurses, mathematicians, engineers, and teachers–and the veterans are thrilled to be a part of their learning experience.
Paul Smith School
Second grade students from the Paul Smith School visit regularly to practice reading aloud to the residents. The students are excited to share what they have learned since their last visit, and the residents help the students out with some of the reading. Residents are equally excited to share the experience with the students and will read alongside the students and help out with difficult words.
Laconia Middle School
Laconia Middle School students from the Jobs for America's Graduates program visit regularly throughout the summer. The JAG students meet with our residents to participate in social activities and discussions. Discussions center on academics and important life decisions which the students will focus on during high school and after. Social activities include regularly scheduled performers and recreational and board-games.
Holy Trinity Catholic School
Holy Trinity Catholic School is a new addition to our program. The age group of these students range from 13 to 15 years old. The talents, depth, and insightfulness of the students allows for meaningful sharing and the development of skills to assist veterans with paper mâché, painting, bingo, and woodworking.
The Gabert Family
The Gabert Family of eight home-schooled children and their mother come in twice a month to perform an interactive skit with the veterans. The program is called "Stars, Stripes, and Salutes," and has a patriotic focus. The program is held on the Hannah Dustin neighborhood in LEDU. The US flag is honored, patriotic songs are sung, and parading and celebrating the uniqueness of each child and veteran is affirmed. The joy this family imparts to our veterans is treasured.
Getting involved is easy! Residents should ask their social worker or a recreational staff member about programs and times. Local youth, teachers, parents, and group leaders can call the Therapeutic Recreation Coordinators at the Veterans Home at (603) 527-4400.
New Hampshire Veterans Home
139 Winter Street | Tilton, NH 03276-5415 |
(p) 603-527-4400 | (f) 603-527-4402