Those living in care are often isolated. Though our creation of retirement communities, we may have inadvertently created geriatric silos. However, through intergenerational arts-infused programming we can transform these silos into animated and interactive environments that inspire creativity.
Dr. Gene Cohen said that "even as memory fades, imagination continues to be robust", and it is with this in mind that we approach all our programs.
Our programs engage seniors in extended care or retirement communities, by developing, when appropriate, significant relationships with youth attending local schools. This intergenerational community also increases the youths' understanding of aging and the history of their community.
When running intergenerational programs individuals can be nervous and unsure how to begin conversations with one another. Building rapport and trust takes time and a shared arts experience can do a lot to break down generational boundaries.
RIBBONS OF LIFE
Ribbons of Life (1999) is an award winning project that sought to address social isolation, improve intergenerational communication, and build sustainable partnerships in the community. Begun in late 1999 and completed in 2000, this was the first collaboration between Burnaby Art Gallery, Burnaby School District, four independent artists and the Cascade Residence at Burnaby Hospital.
This collaboration was sustainable as time was taken to develop a strong foundation. The residents were actively involved and created long term relationships with the school children, youth and artists.
Following on the success of this intergenerational initiative, Cascade Residence continued its partnership with Burnaby Art Gallery through Empty Bowls, and Stream of Dreams. A mosaic tile project was in development when the residence closed.
Fifteen years later, the work remains installed in the halls of the host hospital, reminding visitors and staff of the partnership with the schools and Burnaby Art Gallery.
This is a mono-print created by a senior and student. The works reflect the stories shared by the older person and were framed and displayed in the hallways of the seniors' residence.