IDEAL

Intentional Deep Experiences Across Lifecycles

ECC/ELDER Center - Pilot Programs

Moriah ECC- CJE Senior Life Gidwitz Place

Unique Circumstances 

Moriah ECC has had a Grandfriend’s program for many years, but only in certain classrooms. Moriah ECC was looking to expand the depth and breadth of its ECC Grandfriends program, and embark on an ECC/Elder center partnership. 

Learning Curve

When Moriah first began gathering at CJE Gidwitz place, they sat at long, rectangular tables. Facilitators noticed that children and elders were sitting far away from each other, and sometimes had a hard time hearing each other, especially for those with hearing loss. The room seemed noisy. Facilitators decided to switch to small square tables, and sit pairs closer together. This change in environment facilitated better communication. 

Wow Experience

The End Of Year Celebration: each child had at least one parent in attendance, and many had both. Each family brought an annual plant and planted in the garden to leave as a legacy for the grandfriends. All involved realized how important the grandfriend relationship had become for the entire family.

Bernard Zell Anshe Emet Day School

Unique Circumstances 

Wilshire paired up with 2 new centers. The ECC’s have been trying to run intergenerational programming for 5 years, and struggled with low turnout of elders. Along with the new partnerships with IDEAL18 and new elder centers, Wilshire sought parent volunteers. Parents were trained as facilitators and drove the children to and from the elder centers. Parents who believed in the program, spearheaded parent meetings at the beginning of the year, spoke about the benefits of this program, and gave out “how to facilitate” handout. The program developed a different kind of buy-in parents cried from joy at the end of the trips. Partnering with IDEAL18 and parents created a richer, deeper experience. 

Learning Curve 

Training parents as facilitators created a more meaningful experience for all.

Wow Experience

The ECC brought their music specialist to the elder centers to create a joint program. Elders were sitting, some in wheelchairs, and children were dancing around them in a circle. Elders began to dance as well, and at the end said it was the best day of their life. “I can’t remember the last time I was dancing.”

Ohr Kodesh

Unique Circumstances 

Many years ago the ECC had a program entitled HUGS, which stood for Honorary and Unique Grandparents. Once a week a senior would visit a classroom and for a few years we had six (6) volunteers that visited six (6) of our classrooms each week. The program was wonderful. When the ECC was offered to join IDEAL18, the idea to expand the connections so that every child from one class would have a special relationship with a senior adult (Grandfriend) couldn’t wait to begin. The children saw photos of the grandfriends, and each child was empowered to choose a photograph. This program also has a mixed group of elder center residents bused over and community grandfriend volunteers. 

Learning Curve

The ECC found that the grandfriends had a very strong instinct to want to bring small “gifts” to the children. It was heartwarming to witness, but the school had to have a dialogue with the grandfriends to come up with a plan regarding how this could work. Although the ECC came up with a plan, it was interesting to notice that some of them still could not resist and continued to bring a small “present” to the child they were paired with. Children did not seem to mind as they were all satisfied with their powerful relationships. 

Wow Experience

The program started in January, and had only 5 encounters before closing due to Covid-19. The joy and excitement each Monday morning from the parents, the teachers and especially the children was phenomenal. They continue to send emails, write letters, and have phone conversations as everyone lives through this pandemic. The children and grandfriends only knew each other for 5 hours and the friendships and bonds that were created in this short time period was nothing less than a miracle. IDEAL 18 is a game changer for children and the elderly, which every school all over our country should embrace.

JCC Dallas

Unique Circumstances 

The elders and children are on the same campus, and can see each other in the hallways. This was the first time the JCC elder center partnered with the ECC. Now they have a private club feeling, with their own secrets. 

Learning Curve

The facilitators realized the power the program has in larger community building, even beyond the children and elders. The staff and family at both the centers benefits from the joy of the program. +

Wow Experience

The grandfriends formed such strong bonds so quickly, even with teachers. Teachers are still reaching out for contact information. The ECC administrators also noticed that the program inspires teachers.Teachers have a different motivation to do more in their own classrooms. For the teachers, creating relationships with elders builds in community.

Dave and Mary Alper JC

Unique Circumstances  

JCC Elder center partners for the first time with ECC. The school had grandfriends in the classroom, but by going from room to room and reading a book, which did not create deep relationships. The ECC decided to partner IDEAL18 in order to deepen and broaden the intergenerational experiences. 

Learning Curve

Through IDEAL18, the ECC partnered with a pilot program, the Dallas JCC. The ECC got a lot of ideas of how to start an IDEAL18 program, such as how to intentionally pair children and elders. The teachers described each child’s personality, and sent it to the elder center coordinator so that the pairing could be thoughtfully made.

Wow Experience

Facilitators were amazed at how quickly and powerfully the relationships between the children and elders were made. They are keeping in touch even after the program is over for the year. Families are helping the children and elders connect.

Early Learning Center Brookline/Brighton-JCC Greater Boston - Chestnut Par

Unique Circumstances  

The ECC and elder center were connected geographically by a hallway, although they are two separate institutions. 

Learning Curve 

Through experience, the program learned that the elders needed to arrive earlier than the children and be ready to receive them, because otherwise the elders trickled in over the course of the program and it was difficult to sustain programming. 

Wow Experience

It was amazing how much children enjoyed sharing what they had co-created with the grandfriends at the end of the encounters. Likewise, the grandfriends enjoyed watching their child share with the rest of the group, and seemed to take pride in their child.

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