The third annual OMEGA Summit, held on October 21 at the MIT AgeLab in Cambridge, drew a record number of students from across the region. Nearly 50 high school students from Massachusetts, Maine, Rhode Island and New Hampshire participated.
The goal of the Summit was to assist students in developing and supporting intergenerational connections in their communities. Students heard an overview of the importance of intergenerational work, then organized into small groups to brainstorm ideas, which they first presented to a panel of experts for feedback and finally to the entire group.
Some of the ideas students generated during the Summit included:
- Connecting high school seniors with older adult mentors to teach students “adulting” skills, like budgeting and cooking, before they head off to college.
- Organizing an intergenerational band to perform in the community, at local schools, local senior centers, etc.
- Creating intergenerational interest groups that meet weekly on different topics.
- Connecting high school students with an older adult in a buddy system, and attend larger group events in older adult/student pairs.
Expert guidance was provided to students by members of the MIT AgeLab’s Lifestyle Leaders panel, Kate White of Jewish Community Housing for the Elderly (JCHE), Debra Berlyn, executive director of Project GOAL; and UzoAmaka Mogor, a longtime senior care professional.
Students, Lifestyle Leaders, and professionals left the Summit with “next steps” on how they can move forward in implementing and strengthening intergenerational programs in their communities.
Students also learned more about the OMEGA scholarship. Up to three OMEGA college scholarships, with a matching grant for intergenerational work to the student’s school, are awarded each year to New England high school students for intergenerational work performed through their school. Applications for the OMEGA scholarship will open in January 2018.