This preschool is not your ordinary preschool; nor is this nursing home your ordinary nursing home. That’s because both the young and elderly come together and meet under the same roof!
In a country that tends to view aging as a curse and the elderly as a burden, this system is beneficial for both the kids and grown-ups involved. The kids get exposed to the elderly, which normalizes the concept of aging for them. The elderly get exposed to the kids, which reduces feelings of isolation, depression, and loneliness (issues that are sadly common among the older generation). The kids learn a great deal from their older friends, and the older people become more active and reenergized thanks to their younger friends.
Located in West Seattle, the Intergenerational Learning Center (ILC) allows preschoolers (and even younger children) to interact, play, eat, and learn with the 400 elderly residents. It’s such a cool system that Evan Briggs, a professor at Seattle University, is single-handedly making a documentary out of it (which will be called Present Perfect). You can get a taste of her work in this video (fair warning: it’s a tearjerker!).
This isn’t just a theory, either. While filming Present Perfect, Briggs noted the “complete transformation” that took place within the elderly residents:
“Moments before the kids came in, sometimes the people seemed half alive, sometimes asleep. It was a depressing scene. As soon as the kids walked in for art or music or making sandwiches for the homeless or whatever the project that day was, the residents came alive.”
With such great results, hopefully we can expect to see more programs like this cropping up in the future — especially as the Baby Boomers head toward retirement and senior citizenship.